Repeal & Replace Watch

The Potential Price Of Party Loyalty

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Darryl Issa (R-Calif.) during a rally in San Diego in May 2016. Issa was among 14 Republican U.S. House members whose vote to approve the American Health Care Act last week could cost him politically. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images)

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All 14 of California’s Republican U.S. House members voted Thursday for a GOP proposal to roll back the Affordable Care Act and cut spending on Medicaid, the federal program for people with low incomes. Their votes may have unwanted political implications for them.

Some of them, such as Rep. Darrell Issa, whose district straddles the Orange-San Diego County line, represent areas that recently have trended blue, or Democratic. In fact, voters in seven of these 14 districts, including Issa’s, chose Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the November election.

Many of these districts also are highly dependent on health care coverage made possible by the ACA, also known as Obamacare. This is particularly true in California’s Central Valley, where a significant percentage of the population is covered by Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, which expanded under Obamacare.

For example, GOP Rep. David Valadao represents Kings County and parts of Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties. Fifty-five percent of Tulare County residents are Medi-Cal enrollees, the highest rate in the state.

And voters in his 21st Congressional District favored Clinton by 15.5 percentage points over Trump.

Political analysts and community health advocates believe some of these GOP representatives could pay a price at the polls. Last week, California Healthline senior correspondent Emily Bazar, who writes the Ask Emily column, joined Ben Adler of Capital Public Radio on KCRW, an NPR affiliate in Southern California, to discuss the potential implications of the health votes on these politicians’ futures.

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