In election glow, Dems see health care as a winning issue

AP

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  • In this Feb. 21, 2017, file photo, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks at a news conference in Seattle. Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see health care as an issue that gives them a political edge, particularly widening access to Medicaid for low-income people. “I think health care is a driving motivator for Democrats to elect people who will not take it away,” said Murray, ranking Democrat on the Senate health committee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

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    FILE - In this June 10, 2013 file photo, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., speaks in Trenton, N.J. Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see health care as an issue that gives them a political edge, particularly widening access to Medicaid for low-income people. “I honestly believe that if you had a referendum on expanding Medicaid in most of the states that don’t have it, it would win,” said Pallone, the senior Democrat on the House committee that oversees the program. “People know the value of Medicaid in a way that they didn’t before.”(AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

  • In this Feb. 21, 2017, file photo, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks at a news conference in Seattle. Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see health care as an issue that gives them a political edge, particularly widening access to Medicaid for low-income people. “I think health care is a driving motivator for Democrats to elect people who will not take it away,” said Murray, ranking Democrat on the Senate health committee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

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    FILE - In this June 10, 2013 file photo, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., speaks in Trenton, N.J. Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see health care as an issue that gives them a political edge, particularly widening access to Medicaid for low-income people. “I honestly believe that if you had a referendum on expanding Medicaid in most of the states that don’t have it, it would win,” said Pallone, the senior Democrat on the House committee that oversees the program. “People know the value of Medicaid in a way that they didn’t before.”(AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are starting to see a political edge in health care — particularly the idea of widening Medicaid access for more low-income people — after big election victories Tuesday night.

In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam promised a vigorous push as governor to expand Medicaid. Voters who said health care was important went decisively for Northam.

In Maine, voters defied Republican Gov. Paul LePage's determined opposition by passing a referendum to expand Medicaid to cover an estimated 70,000 more residents.

During Barack Obama's presidency, health care was often seen as a political liability for Democrats. But public opinion seems to have shifted amid widespread opposition to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obama's Affordable Care Act.

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