Four embattled Republican senators—Colorado’s Cory Gardner, Georgia’s David Perdue, Arizona’s Martha McSally, and Montana’s Steve Daines—appear to have come to the belated conclusion that voting to kill health care coverage for millions of Americans may turn out to be a political liability in November.
As reported by Sahil Kapur, writing for NBC News:
WASHINGTON —Republican senators facing tough re-election fights this fall are expressing support for insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, running ads at odds with their own recent votes and policy positions.
All four are on record as voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to Americans on the basis of what those companies euphemistically refer to as “pre-existing conditions.” And now all four are desperately backtracking on those votes, blatantly lying directly to their constituents in a series of ads that suggest they did the exact opposite, and that they somehow now “support” such coverage.
Cory Gardner has actually had the gall to enlist his own mother in this scheme, releasing an ad in which he sits next to mom, a cancer survivor. In the ad, she says claims that “Cory” has introduced legislation to “guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions—forever.”
The ad doesn’t mention that Gardner voted repeatedly to kill the Affordable Care Act, which already prohibits the denial of such coverage by insurance companies. But worse than that, the ad is a flat out lie. Gardner’s “bill” is a single page PDF that doesn’t do what his mother claims in the ad:
Gardner’s 117-word-long legislation would require insurers "not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion" or "factor health status into premiums or charges.” The bill was introduced in August and has never received a hearing or a vote.
Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, said Gardner's bill "contains a giant loophole" because insurance companies can simply "deny coverage altogether to people with pre-existing conditions."
Likewise, Arizona Sen. Martha McSally released an ad in March
in which she called attacks on her record as “shameful,” claiming she would “always” protect those with pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately for McSally, that ignores her House vote in 2017 against the Affordable Care Act
which would have done the exact opposite, effectively killing such coverage for her constituents.
But at the time she clearly wasn’t thinking she’d be losing badly in a Senate race occurring during the middle of the worst public health crisis to strike the country in a century. And she certainly couldn’t have anticipated that voting to kill health care coverage
for the millions of Americans with a “pre-existing” condition (which insurance companies typically interpret to mean any
prior health problems) could come back to haunt her. No, she was just parroting the Republican line about repealing “Obamacare,” without thinking of the consequences to actual Americans, including the ones who happen to live in Arizona.
David Perdue of Georgia apparently chose to follow the Gardner strategy, by including a family member to provide an emotional testimonial to counter his callous voting record. Perdue’s ad
hawks his sister, another cancer survivor, who says she’s “defending her big brother’s heart.” It’s a good thing her ‘big brother’ failed in his multiple votes to repeal
the type of coverage that kept her alive. Just like his GOP compatriots, McSally and Gardner. No matter how many times he tries to lie about it now, Perdue’s past record of opposition to affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is preserved in the indelible ink of the Congressional Record.
Finally, as noted by Kapur, Steve Daines of Montana not only voted to “repeal and replace” the ACA in 2017, but as a a congressman, voted to kill the ACA with no replacement whatsoever
in 2013. He’s also running an ad claiming he now supports health care coverage for pre-existing conditions, despite a record which demonstrates the exact opposite.
The irony of all this? If Daines and McSally had succeeded, many people like Gardner’s mother and Perdue’s sister might now be dead.
Perhaps they can all get together for an ad to explain that.