The Republican candidate for the open Senate seat in Arizona, Martha McSally, probably speaks for other GOP contenders across the country when she says, “I’m getting my a– kicked” on the issue of health care. Congresswoman McSally has been hammered by her Democratic opponent, Krysten Sinema, for twice voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which, among many benefits, protects Americans with pre-existing conditions from denials of coverage and punitive premiums.
“Now locked in a competitive statewide Senate race against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, McSally finds herself blistered by campaign attack ads and having to explain her past votes and current views on health care and the Affordable Care Act, which has grown in popularity in recent years. About 20 million more Americans gained health insurance after the act passed.” – Arizona Republic, 10/29/18
With more than 70% of voters telling pollsters health care is a crucial issue in the mid-term elections, Republican candidates like McSally have been selling themselves as protectors of patients with pre-existing conditions – when they and the Trump administration have spent the past two years trying to obliterate protections that Democrats like Sinema truly support:
“Before the Affordable Care Act, we know many, many people could not get health insurance because they had some sort of condition like diabetes, asthma, heart disease… Someone very close to me filed for bankruptcy over medical bills because of this issue.” – Krysten Sinema, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona
“Republicans are not really interested in this project, but they know the voters really want [health care], so they’re trying to pretend to support it when they don’t,” author and journalist Jonathan Cohn told MSNBC today. Republicans are “trying to rewrite history… brazenly,” he said.
When Trump and the GOP failed by a thin margin to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they began sabotaging the law. The administration reneged on Affordable Care Act payments to keep insurance markets stable, failed to provide adequate public outreach during open enrollment periods, and changed the rules to allow the sale of skimpier policies that don’t protect pre-existing conditions. Congress passed the Trump/GOP tax cuts, which neutralized the Affordable Care Act insurance mandate – further weakening the law.
Twenty Republican state attorneys general filed a lawsuit arguing that the zeroing-out of the Obamacare mandate should render the entire law null. One of them is Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley, who seeks to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. He had the audacity to claim that he supports protections for pre-existing conditions while being party to a lawsuit that would erase them.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has displayed similar hypocrisy in his bid for Bill Nelson’s Senate seat:
“Scott, in a tight race, desperately launched a last-minute ad campaign declaring his support for protections for people with preexisting conditions — despite trying to kill Obamacare for years.” – Washington Post, 10/26/18
President Trump has set a problematic example for Republican Congressional candidates by twisting the truth for partisan ends. He claims that Republicans – not Democrats – will protect Social Security and Medicare, despite proposing budgets that would slash both programs by billions of dollars over ten years. The President spreads the myth that Republicans will protect people with pre-existing conditions, despite being the saboteur-in-chief of the Affordable Care Act.
The President, McSally, Hawley, Scott and other Republicans should not count on voters having amnesia about GOP actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act, before they suddenly became ‘champions’ of pre-existing conditions for the mid-terms. Americans remember the relentless late night votes for Obamacare repeal bills (the American Health Care Act, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the ‘Skinny Repeal’) that the GOP pursued like a dog with a bone, and thankfully lost. They remember the Trump/GOP tax scam that neutered the insurance mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. Voters know which party has fought for people with pre-existing conditions and which one simply postures while trying to gut affordable health care for all Americans.
“Anybody even dimly aware of recent history ― specifically, the part where Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, only to have Republicans spend eight years trying to repeal it ― should recognize the claim as a lie… GOP leaders have already made clear that they will try once again to repeal the health care law if they can.” – Huffington Post, 10/25/18
It’s true. While many GOP candidates cling to the falsehood that they support protections for pre-existing conditions, party leaders have hinted that they may renew their attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act after the midterms. That’s just one more reason not to trust the current majority with the future of Americans’ health care. Of all the issues in the coming election, none goes to Americans’ fundamental well-being like this one. At some point in their lives, most voters will have pre-existing medical conditions – and won’t want to be locked out of coverage or pay exorbitant premiums. That’s why it’s so important to separate the health care charlatans from the health care champions, and vote accordingly.