“My sense is yes, it will be a significant issue and was before the Republicans started to talk about it in the last two days,” Meghan Finegan, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union, said about the prominence of healthcare policies at the Democratic convention.
The pre-election gathering of the Democratic faithful will feature many of the leading gubernatorial and congressional voices on healthcare, as well as President Barack Obama, for whom the Affordable Care Act is seen as a defining domestic policy achievement.
However, many of the provider groups that were critical to that law's enactment will be absent. That marks a change for some groups from previous conventions and has raised some eyebrows because the national news coverage could present an opportunity to educate the public about a law that is still opposed 47.9%-42.1%, according to the Aug. 29 RealClearPolitics poll of polls.
“If you're one of those specialties that wants this law to move forward in implementation, you absolutely have to be out front and support it,” said Julius Hobson, former lobbyist for the American Medical Association. And that level of support would entail explaining the many provisions of the law—both popular and controversial—to the media covering the national conventions, said Hobson, now a senior policy adviser in the Washington office of the law firm Polsinelli Shughart.
The AMA was one of the provider groups that led the congressional push to narrowly enact the healthcare overhaul after a yearlong pitched legislative battle. But that group is one of several provider groups that are sitting this convention out, despite regularly sending representatives in previous years. An AMA spokeswoman declined to comment on why the group opted out of attending this year.