Joni Ernst Votes to Uphold Short-Term, Junk Insurance Plans

The Senate today killed a measure from Senate Democrats to overturn the ruling on the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term health insurance plans.

The short-term plans, frequently referred to as ‘junk plans,’ are non-ACA compliant, and are not required to cover people with pre-existing conditions. These plans offer immediate insurance options, without anything close to comprehensive coverage; they’ve gotten more and more common as the Trump administration takes the ACA to court.

Sen. Joni Ernst, who voted against the proposal, has repeatedly claimed that she supports preexisiting conditions coverage despite trying to repeal the ACA.

“Sen. Ernst just voted in lockstep with Mitch McConnell and Washington Republicans for a toxic plan expanding junk insurance that will empower giant insurance companies to spike health care costs and discriminate against Iowans with pre-existing conditions,” said Troy Price, Iowa Democratic Party Chair. “As Senator Ernst tries to blame Iowans for her plummeting approval rating, votes like this one make it crystal clear why Iowa’s hardworking families don’t trust her to fight for them.”

Senate Republicans stated that the plans offer a cheaper option to Obamacare, and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said you can “pay less for less coverage and at least you will have some insurance.”

With the exception of Susan Collins (R-Maine), who voted with Democrats, the measure was killed with a 43-52 vote down party lines.

Year-Long “Short-Term” Plans

The rule that the Democrats were trying to overturn would have gotten rid of a three-month restriction on short-term plans, allowing them to last up to a year.

During the Trump administration, the market has been flooded with these short-term, junk plans, and that looks to continue now that these plans are allowed to last up to a year in length.

The Republican push to allow these plans to grow in size and frequency has developed despite a lack of state support or pressure.

ACA expansion has taken place around the country, including in states with Republican leadership. Despite that, the Senate was able to build enough support internally amongst the Republican party to kill this measure, further breaking down protections in the ACA.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service Administrators confirmed to Washington Post writer Paige Winfield Cunningham that “no states have requested waivers to duck ACA insurance regulations, even though it’s been a full year since the new guidance was released.”

“Spooky Junk Plans”

Sen. Joni Ernst has been at the forefront of the Republican push to take down the ACA, and has been questioned repeatedly on the issue at town halls around her home state. The criticisms have also been taken to the airways.

In September, Iowa Voices ran an ad against Joni Ernst stating, “She voted to allow insurance companies to discriminate against people like Ashley (those with pre-existing conditions).” A KCRG fact-checked this claim and gave it an ‘A’ for accuracy, based on her voting record on the subject matter.

Ernst has also been labeled a ‘vulnerable’ Senator in her upcoming reelection bid, where she was shown to have had the biggest drop in approval amongst incumbent Senators. Some Democrats hoped that this vote would once again cause problems for Ernst’s reelection efforts given the widespread popularity for preexisting conditions coverage.

At a town hall earlier this month, Ernst was pushed hard on her healthcare voting record, and admitted that she has repeatedly voted to repeal the ACA without any replacement plan in place — it didn’t go over very well.

In that same town hall, Ernst also stated that she has “supported other initiatives that do protect pre-existing conditions, so let’s make that clear,” though her vote today on junk plans suggests the opposite.

Tomorrow, Oct. 31 — Halloween — Progress Iowa will host “Rally Against Spooky Junk Insurance Plans” at the Neal Smith Federal Building at 10:30 a.m. to protest their votes on the Protecting Preexisting Conditions Act, the measure that was killed in the Senate today.


By Josh Cook
Posted 10/30/19

3 Comments on "Joni Ernst Votes to Uphold Short-Term, Junk Insurance Plans"

  • Don’t underestimate Ernest as she won’t be a pushover. She won a bruising primary and got elected because we ran a lackluster candidate.

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