Iowa Senator Joni Ernst gets non-stop questions about her stance on health care issues when she’s out at her town hall meetings. She often says she supports preexisting condition coverage despite voting five times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a few of which had options to open loopholes back up for insurers to drop people with preexisting medical conditions.
“Everyone will point the finger and say you don’t support people with preexisting conditions,” Ernst said. “That’s not true. That’s simply not true. I have never said — Interestingly enough, Type 1 Diabetes is rampant in my family as well as autism.”
“Guaranteed, I would not want to take away any of your coverage because of a preexisting issue,” Ernst said.
More than 1.3 million Iowans have preexisting conditions, according to the United States Department of Health.
During a town hall in Forest City, a woman asked Ernst what has influenced her decision to support plans that would not support preexisting conditions.
“Because the ACA is not working,” Ernst replied. “You’ll pick out a certain part of it, but overall the system wasn’t working.”
“We have created an environment now where there is very little competition in the market,” Ernst said.
She said people have decided they can’t afford insurance rates so they refuse to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. To lower rates, she said, the insurance market needs to be opened up beyond state lines.
“We have these artificial boundaries called state lines where you can only buy medical insurance within your state,” Ernst said. “We’re not able to pool with other states in our region, and if we did that we would be increasing competition and increasing the numbers of insurers that could compete for our business.”
“We allow that with different types of insurance — home insurance, auto insurance,” Ernst said. “I can hop online and buy it, but I can’t do that with medical insurance.”
Ernst said every time she voted against the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans attempted to bring up a new plan every time they wanted to repeal it. None of those, of course, have actually moved forward.
Now, she said, the ACA is under review by the courts, but she wasn’t entirely sure what would happen if the ACA, or even just parts of it, is repealed.
“I know they would take up some of the plans I have supported in the past,” Ernst said. “So that plan from Maine, working on recognizing the insurance opportunities, I think those are some things that we can do, but we don’t know that yet.”
“What could happen as they go through the courts, the court could strike down pieces of the ACA or they could choose to strike down the entirety,” Ernst said. “If that happens we will have to react to which piece they are striking down or if it’s in the entirety making sure we have a plan.”
by Paige Godden