Congresswoman Cindy Axne’s campaign is pushing back on a new ad from her Republican challenger, David Young, accusing him of trying to “mislead Iowa voters” by misstating his voting record on health care and distorting the policies Axne supports.
Young’s new TV ad features side by side photos of Axne and Speaker Nancy Pelosi as he seeks to tie the freshman congresswoman to one of Republicans’ most vilified Democrats.
— David Young (@YoungForIowa) September 1, 2020
“On health care, Cindy Axne and Nancy Pelosi are united to expand government-run care,” the narrator says. “Axne and Pelosi’s plan raises taxes and cuts Medicare benefits for seniors. The Axne-Pelosi plan can even cause over half of Iowa’s rural hospitals to close, just when we need them most.”
Young closes the 30-second ad by saying he will “protect Iowans with preexisting conditions,” despite his repeated votes in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“David Young’s empty promises ring hollow for Iowans who won’t soon forget his repeated votes to take away their protections and benefits,” said Axne’s campaign spokesperson Jessica David.
The ad does not mention a specific bill that Young is criticizing, but instead makes generic references to “Axne and Pelosi’s plan.” Let’s examine the four claims made by Young’s campaign.
‘Expand Government-Run Care’
According to Axne’s campaign website, the 3rd District congresswoman supports maintaining and improving the Affordable Care Act and will continue working to “stop House Republicans from allowing the return of lifetime limits, make sure that people cannot be discriminated against for having a preexisting condition, and lower costs including prescription drugs.”
Axne does not support abolishing private health insurance in the United States.
In June, House Democrats advanced the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act to help meet the health care needs of Americans impacted by the recession and coronavirus pandemic. The bill’s chief goal is to increase federal subsidies on the health care exchange so insurance premiums are more affordable. No individual or family would pay more than 8.5% of their income for a standard “silver” plan in the Affordable Care Act marketplace, resulting in half-priced premiums in some cases.
The bill does not include a public option to buy into Medicare.
Pillars of the legislation, such as government intervention in negotiating prescription drug costs, expanding enhanced Medicaid availability to more states and curtailing the promotion of substandard health insurance plans long have been priorities for Democrats when discussing how to provide Americans more affordable coverage.
Raising Taxes, Cutting Medicare
The ad cites a January research paper called “The Fiscal Effects of the Public Option” when making the claims that Axne supports health care proposals to raise taxes and cut Medicare benefits.
Axne’s campaign website says she “is fighting for a public option that allows Americans to buy into Medicare so that every American has access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.” In the nearly two years Axne has been in Congress, however, a bill to create a public option has not been voted on.
The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2019 analysis of public option proposals found all “retain the current Medicare program.” According to KFF, the Congressional Budget Office has not scored the cost or tax impacts of public option proposals, leaving the door open for a variety of opinions on how an expanded Medicare option would impact individual and federal finances.
Causing Rural Hospitals To Close
The claim that the “Axne-Pelosi plan” could cause “over half of Iowa’s rural hospitals to close” comes from a Sept. 2019 article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette about a study funded by a group advocating against Medicare for All and public option plans.
In The Gazette, Kirk Norris, president and CEO of the Iowa Hospital Association, acknowledges that hospitals in the state are struggling financially due to low reimbursement rates from Medicare and the state’s privatized Medicaid system.
“Norris said Iowa’s hospitals are struggling because of the makeup of the insurance market,” The Gazette reported. “Medicare is a lower payer in Iowa, relative to the rest of the country, which presents a particular challenge when considering many of Iowa’s rural residents fall under the category of older adults.
“Many community hospital officials also say they face challenges in obtaining reimbursement from the managed-care organizations, private insurance companies that handle Iowa’s Medicaid program,” the newspaper reported.
Throughout her time in Congress, and in particular during the coronavirus pandemic, Axne has called on the Trump Administration and leaders in Congress to step up assistance for financially vulnerable hospitals by establishing no-interest loans for hospitals and clinics and creating eligibility for small clinics and hospitals in the Paycheck Protection Program, among other measures.
“We cannot allow any health care provider who is serving our communities to close their doors during this pandemic, and we must provide them with the assurances that financial assistance is coming,” Axne said.
By Elizabeth Meyer
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