A failing health care pitch to college students

As the economy continues its painfully slow recovery, the number of Americans without health care coverage continues to grow. As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, however, the cloud has a silver lining: the percentage of young adults with insurance is going up, even as the number declines for other age groups.

There’s no real mystery here. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 can stay on their family’s plan, instead of being kicked off on their 18th birthday.

For most reasonable people, this is great news — more coverage for more Americans is clearly a positive development for everyone. But this progress has apparently made matters significantly worse for one group of people: College Republicans.

One of the measure’s simplest, and most swiftly implemented provisions, allows children to stay on their parents’ health care until they turn 26. And, as a top College Republican official let slip during a post-debate panel in a Google “hangout” promoted by Fox News last Thursday, that’s become a problem for the party on campus.

“That’s an issue that on college campuses we battle every day as College Republicans and that we get questions about,” said CR National Co-Chairwoman Alex Smith. “The candidate that will speak to specifics like that issue and others is going to be the candidate that will eventually prevail among the youth vote.”

College Republicans are generally rather media-friendly types, but officials declined to elaborate on the issue on the phone, and co-chairman Alex Schriver, emailed over a response that ignored the question of how the under-26 provision is playing out on campus.

College Republicans are in an unenviable position on this. A GOP activist is apparently supposed to tell a 20-year-old student, “You know that health insurance you currently enjoy? You should vote for Republicans who are determined to take it away from you, on purpose, as part of a pointless ideological crusade.”

Somehow, I find it hard to believe on-the-fence voters in this age group are going to find that persuasive.

That said, College Republicans shouldn’t feel too bad about their rhetorical difficulties — congressional Republicans don’t find it any easier to explain why they want to repeal the ACA, raise taxes on businesses, make prescription drugs more expensive for seniors, deny coverage to 30 million Americans, and take insurance away from young adults.