Candidates Draw Battle Lines Over Obamacare

Janet

The issue of Obamacare is sparking a heated direct-mail battle in at least one state House race in Benton County.

Jana Della Rosa, one of three Republicans seeking election in the open District 90 seat, sent a mailer to voters last week asserting she does not support Obamacare.

The mailer (seen above)  is in response to an earlier direct-mail piece in the district saying Della Rosa’s “plan” is forcing people into Obamacare. That piece (seen below) was sent by Americans for Prosperity, a political action committee working nationwide against Obamacare.

Americans for Prosperity has been active in Arkansas in opposing the “private option” health plan approved in the 2013 legislative session and signed by Gov. Mike Beebe. The plan allows people who meet poverty guidelines to use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance through the state insurance exchange. Critics liken it to Obamacare, contending it expands public health coverage.

Because she was not in the Legislature in 2013, Della Rosa did not vote on the private option plan, but she has since said she would have voted for it because it was the only alternative presented to controlling Medicaid costs. The private option plan is actually an alternative to Obamacare, she said, in that it privatizes public health care as much as possible. She said if elected she will evaluate the program’s performance and could vote for or against it based on the data.

Della Rosa faces Paul Caldwell and Mike Whitmore in the May 20 primary election. If the leading candidate doesn’t receive more than 50 percent of the total vote, the top two candidates will face each other in a June 10 runoff election. The primary election winner advances to the Nov. 4 general election but will run unopposed in that race since no Democrat or candidate from any other party filed to run in the race. While unopposed, the Republican on the November ballot will need at least one vote to be elected to the General Assembly, election officials said.

Caldwell said while Della Rosa isn’t “technically” for Obamacare, he doesn’t see a difference between Obamacare and private option in that both expand public health care. Caldwell said he and Della Rosa share similar views on key issues, except for their opposing stances on private option. Whitmore also has said he opposes private option.

On the flipside of Della Rosa’s mailer, she attempts to link Caldwell to Americans for Prosperity by noting that Wesley Vanderhoff, AFP’s Arkansas field director, is working on Caldwell’s campaign.

Caldwell told 5NEWS he did not know anything about the Americans for Prosperity mailer targeting Della Rosa until a voter pointed it out to him while he was campaigning.

“I have no control over that,” he said of AFP’s direct mail campaign, adding that Vanderhoff is a longtime friend.

Meanwhile, Della Rosa’s mailer asserts that Americans for Prosperity is an out-of-state special interest group with deep pockets. “You can expect to see several more attack mailers in your mailbox soon,” her direct-mail piece says.

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