Folks, this isn’t that hard.
There is an incredibly clear divide on the issue of preexisting conditions coverage in health care policies. Democrats spent the last two decades fighting for and implementing the protections. Republicans spent that same time undermining it.
As Iowa’s campaigns enter the final weeks of the election, health care is once again the top issue the races are likely to be decided on. And several top Republican candidates are now insisting that they care deeply about protecting Americans with preexisting conditions and have fought for such protections throughout their careers. They are even downplaying the threat of the Supreme Court overturning the Affordable Care Act.
Let’s take a look at one of the 3rd Congressional District debates from earlier this week.
“Well, first of all, I’m not sure that the Supreme Court is going to knock it all down or just have a severability clause,” former Congressman David Young said, “but one thing is for sure is that Iowans are talking to me about health care and how the current Affordable Care Act, it doesn’t work. We’ve tried a partisan approach on both sides.”
Young literally lost his seat in 2018 because of the preexisting conditions issue. He’s offered up nothing more in this race as to what’s changed.
The simple fact is the David Young voted to repeal the ACA seven times in Congress, and now that those efforts may be successful through the Trump Administration lawsuit, he’s acting like it simply won’t happen.
When Young did vote for the “Trumpcare” replacement, it specifically weakened preexisting conditions protections. That plan allowed states to issue a waiver letting insurance companies deny coverage to those people, setting up high-risk exchanges instead. But the funding Republicans provided would have only covered about 5% of Americans who would then need insurance, and those people would have likely faced sky-high deductibles and premiums.
One study showed that the Republican plan could have led to increased charges by insurance companies of $4,270 more for asthma, $17,060 more for pregnancy, and $26,180 more for rheumatoid arthritis.
Now, Trump doesn’t even pretend to have a plan to replace the ACA if it’s struck down in the Court by his own lawsuit. He’s always insisting he’ll reveal a spectacular plan “in two weeks.” Trump’s been saying that his entire presidency — it’s never coming, not now or if he gets reelected.
The ACA did not simply require health insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions — it also required they not charge those people more. That detail is key, and would also be something that Trump’s lawsuit could do away with.
Here’s why that matters with Joni Ernst: she has occasionally touted a bill that she worked on with some other Senate Republicans that tried to address preexisting conditions. But that legislation would have allowed health insurance companies to sell policies that don’t cover many procedures — ensuring that those plans that do cover people with preexisting conditions would be far more expensive, likely prohibitively so.
That’s why Ernst’s new TV ads on health care ring hollow: her effort to protect preexisting conditions coverage means squat if health care companies can charge you so much for that coverage that you can’t afford it anyway.
As everyone agrees, the Affordable Care Act was certainly not perfect. Premiums remain too high for some Americans. But it also succeeded in bringing health care coverage to more than 20 million Americans who didn’t previously have it. The state-based Medicaid expansions it achieved is estimated to have prevented 19,000 deaths. Young people’s health care is more stable as they can stay on their parents plans while they navigate a terrible economy. Horrific lifetime caps for care were eliminated.
When Democrats had full control of the U.S. government, their first priority was to expand health care access — even as it meant implementing some unpopular mandates. That was the only way to actually get it accomplished, to bring life-saving change to Americans, even if their plan had some flaws.
As soon as Republicans got power, they did everything they could to repeal that law and take us back to the awful realities of the pre-ACA health care system. Their so-called solutions all contained easy ways for insurance companies to once again deny people coverage so they could make more money. That is core to Republicans’ conservative ideology — they want as few of restrictions on corporations as possible so they can maximize profit at the expense of anyone and everyone.
Democrats made the tough choices to bring more health care coverage to more Americans than ever before. Republicans, like those running for federal offices in Iowa, fought against it every step of the way, only now pretending to care about it when they realize it may end their political careers.
Ernst even joined a vote this month to stop funding Trump’s ACA repeal lawsuit, far too late in the process to actually accomplish anything. After constantly trying to repeal the law, Ernst wants you to think she didn’t really mean it now that it could actually happen and millions of Americans face the prospect of losing their health care.
As much as Republicans try to muddy the water, this issue is not that complicated. If you want this country’s health care system to continue covering preexisting conditions — without charging vastly more money to do so — vote for the Democrats. To do otherwise would be to ignore everything both parties, candidates and elected officials have said and done this century.
by Pat Rynard
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