On the anniversary of her campaign launch and less than 24 hours after winning Iowa’s Democratic primary, Theresa Greenfield started the general election race with Joni Ernst by focusing on one key issue: health care.
On Tuesday, Greenfield won the four-way primary with 47.7% of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Iowa Secretary of State.
“As we kick off this general election today, there is one key issue that I want to talk about,” Greenfield said Wednesday morning during a virtual press conference. “That is her [Ernst] vote, her many votes, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As I traveled the state, health care is the No. 1 topic I’ve heard about from Iowans.”
The cost of visits to the doctor and pharmaceutical prescriptions are top of mind for voters, Greenfield said, as are concerns about health care facilities closing down in their communities.
A Morning Consult survey this year found health care is the most important issue to 59% of Iowa voters when deciding who to support for president.
“From strengthening health care and workers rights, to protecting Social Security and our ag economy, there are urgent jobs that need doing in Washington,” said Iowa Democratic Party chair Mark Smith, in a statement. “Sen. Joni Ernst’s broken promises aren’t getting them done — but on Nov. 3, Iowans will send a scrappy farm kid to the U.S. Senate who will.”
Since Ernst took office in 2015, she has repeatedly voted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, including support for a repeal bill in 2017 that offered no replacement for the health care law.
In an effort to reassure voters that Republicans want insurance companies to cover individuals with preexisting health conditions, Ernst in 2018 signed onto the GOP’s “Ensuring Coverage for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Act.” The bill provides cover for Republicans concerned about defending past health care votes, but it does not guarantee the same level of preexisting conditions coverage as mandated in the Affordable Care Act. Unlike the ACA, Republicans’ proposed legislation does not lay out services companies must cover in their insurance plans. In Mitch McConnell’s GOP-controlled Senate, the bill went nowhere.
As the nonpartisan PolitiFact points out: “No Republican proposal matches the level of protection in Obamacare, and, at the very least, all open the door to significantly higher [insurance] rates for people with health problems.”
Despite her vocal opposition to the ACA, Ernst has not stated whether she supports the Trump Administration’s lawsuit aimed at repealing the law. In March, Ernst told The Hill: “I’m not saying whether I support it. It’s in the hands of the Supreme Court now, so we’ll see.”
Today, Greenfield called on Ernst “to be independent, to be different, to do what’s right and to oppose this federal lawsuit that’s moving forward that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act and hurt her constituents here in Iowa.”
In the past, Ernst has said she supports “free market type activities” to make health insurance more affordable, including allowing insurance to be bought and sold across state lines.
Greenfield supports “strengthening” the Affordable Care Act and “creating a public health insurance option for Iowans to buy into.” Some of her Democratic opponents in the primary advocated for a single-payer or “Medicare for All” system that would diminish the role of private health insurance.
Ernst does not have a specific health care section on her campaign website. Instead, under “Growing Our Rural Economy” and “Joni’s Work to Enhance our Rural Economy” is a bullet point that states: “Identifying solutions for affordable, quality health care for Iowans.” The website’s “Issues” section does not elaborate on her health care record or explain how she wants to improve health care in the United States.
In the aftermath of her primary victory, several organizations that helped boost Greenfield put out statements on her matchup with Ernst.
“Theresa Greenfield’s decisive victory illustrates that her powerful personal story and message of fighting to protect health care and Social Security resonates deeply with Iowans across the state, making her a perfect foil for Joni Ernst,” said J.B. Poersch, president of Senate Majority PAC, noting their “early investments” in the race that have “laid the groundwork to flip a competitive seat and send Joni Ernst packing in November.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
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