To make the case against voting for Democrats in the 2020 election, Republican candidates in Iowa often tout a study claiming a public option within the Affordable Care Act could force dozens of rural hospitals in the state to close.
In an interview last week with Siouxland News, Sen. Joni Ernst called it an “independent study” and cited it as evidence a public option “could literally bankrupt up to 52 of Iowa’s rural health care systems.”
“The public option that my opponent supports is just really a truck stop on the road to a single-payer system or government takeover of health care,” Ernst said during an Oct. 15 debate with Theresa Greenfield. “That public option — as done by a third-party independent study — could bankrupt up to 52 of our rural health care systems.”
The study, however, is far from independent.
Ernst and other Republican candidates running for federal and state office this year repeatedly have referenced the findings of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a group described by the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an “ad hoc alliance made up of pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital lobbyists working to curb support for expanding Medicare.”
As PolitiFact pointed out in a 2019 article about Democratic health care proposals, “So far, there is no independent study on how rural hospitals would fare” under Medicare for All and public option plans.
When PolitiFact and Kaiser Health News fact-checked a National Republican Senatorial Committee attack ad in Montana built on the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future study, they found the claims about rural hospitals didn’t “stand up” in part because “the study was industry-funded and based on broad assumptions.”
“The organization opposes Medicare for All and a public option,” the fact-checkers said of the Partnership.
Not only is the Partnership known to “churn out reams of research warning of shuttered hospitals, dwindling competition and major shifts in employer-provided benefits under 2020 Democrats’ proposals,” as Politico reported in a 2019 investigative piece on the group, it also buys ads in Iowa and across the country to try and turn Americans off to Democratic health care proposals.
Over the summer, Roll Call reported on the Partnership’s “seven-figure ad campaign” launched during the Democratic and Republican conventions to run “against a Medicare buy-in or public option.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
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