Poliquin hides from his health care record

As an incumbent Rep. Poliquin could be touting his position on legislation involving an issue people really care about, health care.

But not in Poliquin’s ads or his allies’ ads or in the deluge of taxpayer-funded mail from his office, is there any mention of a vote that attracted extensive attention from the press and his constituents.

Poliquin’s campaign website page on health care tells readers two times that his mother used to be a nurse, but not even once does it say he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

That’s Poliquin’s subterranean healthcare strategy, part one.  

Rep. Bruce Poliquin. Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Now, it’s true Poliquin has never been eager to talk about the repeal bill. This was the issue that, when a reporter asked Poliquin if he had decided on his position, Poliquin ducked into a women’s bathroom, then departed that and went into the men’s bathroom, and then emerged with earbuds in and swiftly walked away from the journalist.

Soon thereafter Poliquin voted for the repeal, despite voters strongly disliking it. The repeal bill is the least popular piece of legislation in the last quarter-century that had a chance of passing (with the tax bill Poliquin supported the second least popular).

Legislation repealing the ACA without any replacement was unpopular because tens of millions would have lost coverage, with more than half from massive Medicaid cuts, a program strongly supported by Americans. Medicaid supports disability services in schools and covers low income adults. Nearly two-thirds of Maine nursing home residents use Medicaid.

This year, Poliquin’s subterranean healthcare strategy, part two, involves never using the name of a very popular policy while attacking Democrat Jared Golden for supporting the approach.

Like the characters in the Harry Potter books who never wanted to say “Voldemort” out loud, Medicare-for-All is the Policy That Cannot Be Named.

Oh, it’s named by Golden, quite clearly. The healthcare page on Golden’s campaign website says, “[W]e need to move towards a universal healthcare system, like Medicare-for-All,” a pragmatic and visionary approach. Golden also says he backs Medicaid expansion, and supports lowering prescription drugs’ cost by having the federal government negotiate prices and by allowing us to import them from Canada. Coupling cost limits with universal coverage saves money.

Various paths to universal coverage are very popular, including lowering Medicare eligibility to age 50 or 55. Majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans support Medicare-for-All as an option for people who want it.

The United States can move toward and achieve universal coverage if it’s a priority. After all, we’re a very wealthy nation and the rest of the industrialized world covers everybody via a variety of policy models.

Universal coverage would do a great deal of good for Americans beyond getting treatment, saving lives and not going bankrupt. It would make people more free to pursue their dreams.

When everyone is covered, people can more easily take the risk to start a business. Women being hurt in abusive relationships where their partner or spouse has the coverage can more easily leave. If there’s a loved one who is sick or has a disability and needs care, folks can spend more time doing that and not risk losing coverage. It would also easier to get more training or schooling.

Americans would not feel anxiety from our health system and they’d be more free.

Seniors found out how that feels and they and other Americans really like Medicare.

That must be why, in the very first television ad run by Poliquin’s campaign and a robocall from the Maine Republican Party on healthcare, Medicare-for-All is the Policy That Cannot be Named.

Avoiding the name of the popular policy, the ad and robocall instead use fear and fiction.

Poliquin’s ad and the robocall use the same exact words, claiming that Golden wants to “end Medicare as we know it.” This is blatant nonsense, since all versions of Medicare-for-All would simply include more people in the same Medicare Americans know and love. The robocall also recycles the false claims made about Medicaid expansion which were rejected by voters in both of Maine’s congressional districts.

Deceitful robocalls, bogus attacks and evading accountability for a key vote add up to a subterranean strategy on an issue Maine people really care about.

Unfortunately, we’ll likely see more of the strategy as the election season continues, plus a lot of fear mongering toward Golden. After all, conventional political wisdom says incumbents with unpopular positions they don’t want discussed prevail by ducking their votes and negatively defining their opponents.


Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.