Presenting The GOP Pre-Existing Condition Gaslighter Rogues Gallery!

2019 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

(image via Arkham City Wiki...artist unknown)

(note: this is a work in progress...check back soon for more additions.)

As I noted yesterday, as the 2018 midterm election rapidly approaches, there's been a sudden and complete change in strategy when it comes to healthcare policy campaiging by practically every Republican running for office this year. After nearly a decade of doing everything in their power to attack, undermine, sabotage, hack away at, trash and especially repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (that's the full title of the law, after all), GOP candidates have suddenly decided that "protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions" is a swell idea after all.

So how are they squaring this newfound human decency with their long (and recent...in fact, in some cases, still ongoing) attempts to repeal the very law which does protect coverage of pre-existing conditions? Simple: They're lying through their teeth.

On May 4, 2017, 217 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted AYE for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Every one of those 217 House members was a Republican, most of whom are either running for re-election or for higher office.

Had the AHCA become law, yes, it would have allowed state waivers to eliminate the Community Rating, Essential Health Benefits and No Lifetime Limits provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the AHCA could even have allowed lifetime limits to be brought back in states which didn't receive a waiver to do so.

In other words, under the AHCA, insurance companies would still technically be required to sell a policy to anyone who wanted to enroll...but they could still charge those with pre-existing conditions tens of thousands of dollars more for the policies (making them mathematically impossible to afford) or, alternatively, they could simply strip out coverage of the pre-existing condition in question itself.

Congratulations, cancer and diabetes patients! Your annual physical, flu shot and cast for that broken arm are all covered! I'm afraid your chemotherapy and dialysis aren't, however.

It should be needless to say, but in case it isn't: That is NOT "protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions".

What about the U.S. Senate? Well, on July 28, 2017, Senate Republicans' so-called "Skinny Plan" (which was atually a placeholder for the Better Care Reconciliation Act Plan, or "B-CRAP"...I'm quite serious, that's what they called it) just barely failed in a dramatic vote where 49 Republicans voted AYE. There were slight differences between B-CRAP and the AHCA in other areas, but the Community Rating, Essential Health Beneift and No Lifetime Limit protections would have still been gutted in pretty much the same way (in fact, according to U of M law professor Nicholas Bagley, the Senate version was even worse on this front).

OK, so that's the U.S. House and Senate. What about state officials?

Well, Governors and other state officials don't have the ability to directly repeal the ACA, but they can certainly screw around with and damage it greatly...and of course they can also sue the federal government in an attempt to strip away pre-existing condition protections from the law using the judicial system...which is exactly what they're currently doing via the infamous #TexasFoldEm lawsuit. You know, the lawsuit being brought by 18 Republican state Attorneys General and 2 Republican Governors which, if they win, would result in, you guessed it...the ACA's protections for those with pre-existing conditions being stripped away.

In addition, there's also a whole bunch of GOP Governors and state legislators who have refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA (remember, Medicaid guarantees coverage of pre-existing conditions), or alternately have tried to strip Medicaid away from many of those receiving it, while also stymying implementation of the ACA in general.

And yet, with three weeks to go before the midterms, suddenly practically every Republican is trying to gaslight America by claiming that they never opposed pre-existing condition protections, will do everything they can to protect them, how dare you accuse me of such an atrocity, why look here, my mother/brother/grandson/wife/third-cousin-twice-removed-on-my-uncle's-side has cancer/a heart condition/asthma/leprosy/etc. so I would never even think about doing something so awful, yadda yadda yadda.

With all that in mind, Marcy Wheeler (aka @emptywheel) asked a simple question:

Is anyone cataloging all the cynical campaigning from state officials who've undercut ObamaCare/Medicaid now pretending they didn't? @charles_gaba https://t.co/IBkpjWU0aA

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) October 16, 2018

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I'm not sticking with state officials, however; below I'm listing examples of every 2018 Republican candidates for federal and state office I can find who's trying to pretend that they weren't doing everything they could to tear away pre-existing condition protections just last year...or last month...or, in some cases, today.

NOTE: Special shout-outs to Jonathan Cohn and Margot Sanger-Katz, who each wrote articles which provided many of the entries below.


1. MICHIGAN: Bill Schuette (currently Attorney General, running for Governor):

THEN: Schuette filed not one, not two, but nine lawsuits against the federal government trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, opposed Medicaid expansion up until about 3 seconds ago, and said the following less than 7 months ago...

While some expanded Obamacare in MI and celebrate its 8th "anniversary" today, I didn't sit back and accept it. The Affordable Care Act violated the very first principle of medicine: Do no harm. When I'm governor we will work to repeal & replace Obamacare. https://t.co/Dhzp0TANv7

— Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) March 23, 2018

NOW:

Michigan families deserve affordable, accessible healthcare that covers pre-existing conditions, lets children stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, and protects your ability to pick your own doctor. Learn more about my plan at https://t.co/8Rk4ywuNjt #MIGov

— Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) October 16, 2018


2. WISCONSIN: Scott Walker (Governor, running for re-election):

THEN: Wisconsin governor may seek waiver to let insurers hike premiums for pre-existing conditions

Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that he would consider seeking a waiver to let insurers raise premiums for people with pre-existing medical conditions if the House Republicans' health care plan becomes law.

House GOP members narrowly passed the bill Thursday that would roll back former President Barack Obama's health care law. Part of the bill would allow states to seek waivers exempting insurers from Obama's prohibition on higher premiums for people with pre-existing problems. States could then use federal dollars to fund government-operated insurance programs for pools of expensive patients.

Walker also approved of having Wisconsin's Attorney General file the #TexasFoldEm lawsuit to repeal the ACA's protections:

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is leading a multi-state legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Schimel and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit Monday in a federal court in northern Texas. The lawsuit represents 20 states, including Wisconsin.

...The lawsuit argues the entire law should now be struck down.

...Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Walker authorized the lawsuit "because it questions the constitutionality of Obamacare."

NOW:

My wife is Type 1 diabetic. My mother is a cancer survivor. My brother has a heart condition. Covering pre-existing conditions is personal to me. And it’s the right thing to do. As long as I’m governor, people with pre-existing conditions will always be covered.

— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) October 15, 2018


3. MICHIGAN: Mike Bishop (MI-08, running for re-election):

THEN: Bishop was one of the 217 Republican members of Congress who not only voted to for the AHCA last year (which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections), but then smiled and laughed about doing so at a big party in the White House Rose Garden afterwards.

NOW:

from @MikeBishopMI: My wife has a pre-exiting condition, it’s not only important to families, it’s essential. No way I would have voted for it if it didn’t have protections for pre-existing conditions

— Kathy Gray (@michpoligal) October 7, 2018


4. ILLINOIS: Rodney Davis (IL-13, running for re-election):

THEN: He voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: Today he's running a campaign ad featuring his wife, who apparently suffers from a genetic form of cancer which she fears will be passed on to their children. Of course, both Congressman and Mrs. Davis (who's also apparently a nurse herself, imagine that!), along with their children (until they're 26 years old, thanks to the ACA!), receive their healthcare coverage at a 72% discount, thanks to the FEHBP...and they have ways of keeping that discount even if Davis is booted out of office.

NOTE: There's actually a bit more than meets the eye here when it comes to Rep. Davis...I'll be posting about that in a separate blog entry soon.


5. CALIFORNIA: Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48, running for re-election):

THEN: He voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: CA GOP Rep. Rohrabacher, tied with Democratic rival Rouda, seeks to shift focus in very personal ad

California GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who is in a tight re-election race against Democratic challenger and businessman Harley Rouda, has gone personal with a new TV campaign commercial in which he discusses his daughter Annika's leukemia diagnosis and coverage for pre-existing health conditions.

Yet the new ad doesn't talk about the Orange County politician's vote for the American Health Care Act of 2017. A Congressional Budget Office report warned the AHCA would result in 23 million Americans losing health-care coverage and would undermine protections for pre-existing medical conditions.

...He adds, "So for her and all our families, we must protect America's health-care system. That's why I'm taking on both parties and fighting for those with pre-existing conditions."


6. NEW YORK: John Faso (NY-19, running for re-election):

THEN: He voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: Republicans Are Using Their Families To Defend Their Records On Health Care

In New York, an ad for Republican Rep. John Faso (NY-19) features his wife, a cancer survivor, speaking directly to the camera. “John knows firsthand how important health care is for families,” she says. “The truth is he voted to guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.”


7. FLORIDA: Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25, running for re-election):

THEN: He voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: Republicans Are Using Their Families To Defend Their Records On Health Care

In Florida, a video for fellow GOP incumbent Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-25) follows nearly the same script. His wife, recalling her own bout with cancer, calls attacks on her husband’s health care record “hurtful.”


8. MISSOURI: Josh Hawley (Attorney General, running for U.S. Senate):

THEN (and NOW, actually): Josh Hawley is one of the 20 GOP Attorneys General and Governors who is currently seeking to have the ACA's protections for pre-existiing condition coverage repealed via the #TexasFoldEm lawsuit.

NOW: Republicans Are Using Their Families To Defend Their Records On Health Care

And in Missouri, Josh Hawley (MO-AG), the state attorney general challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, has written and talked repeatedly about his oldest son, who has a rare chronic disease.

One of his advertisements features a sun-drenched shot of the family outside, with Hawley’s (adorable) little boy bouncing a ball in the air. “We’ve got two perfect little boys ― just ask their mama,” Hawley says before mentioning the pre-existing condition. “We know what that’s like. I support forcing insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions.”

The ad is undeniably moving ― and wildly at odds with Hawley’s words and deeds on health care. The same goes for the promises of Bishop and the other House Republicans, whose efforts to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions are a matter of public record.


9. INDIANA: Mike Braun (running for U.S. Senate):

THEN: He was in the Indiana state legislature last year, not Congress, but he fully supported repealing the ACA:

Braun’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment on how he could square opposing Obamacare yet supporting one of its central tenets.

..."The people of Indiana want a full repeal of Obamacare and every Republican in Congress needs to sign the petition forcing leadership to bring this bill up for a vote," Braun wrote in a letter to the editor of the Kokomo Tribune on Aug. 16, 2017. "Congressman Messer and Rokita voted for the same legislation before, so why not do everything possible to get something done? … When I’m in the Senate, I’ll take action and keep pushing for the full repeal of Obamacare."

NOW: Republican activists applaud Mike Braun for pre-existing conditions pledge

Republican Senate nominee Mike Braun said Tuesday that insurance companies should be forced to cover pre-existing medical conditions, remarks that sparked applause from GOP activists.

Braun was responding to a question from a friendly crowd in Hamilton County, a suburban Republican stronghold north of Indianapolis. That the question was posed, and the group’s reaction, revealed the extent to which voter attitudes on healthcare have shifted in America — even among Republicans who opposed, and still favor repealing, Obamacare.

“Definitely; yes. Nobody should go broke because they get sick or have a bad accident,” Braun said, when asked if health plans should cover pre-existing conditions.


10. FLORIDA: RIck Scott (currently Governor, running for U.S. Senate):

THEN: Gov. Scott still seeking Obamacare repeal despite Senate health bill failure

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott, whose political career is largely defined by opposition to the Affordable Care Act, still wants Republicans to repeal the federal health care law despite their apparent failure to do so.

“Floridians simply cannot afford the high taxes and mandates of Obamacare. This law needs to be repealed,” Scott spokeswoman Kerri Wyland said in an emailed statement.

The statement appears at odds with President Donald Trump’s solution, to “let Obamacare fail,” in light of the Senate GOP’s inability to pass its own health care bill, dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act. When insurers leave the health plan exchanges set up by the law, Democrats will come to Republicans looking to help fix the law, Trump told reporters Tuesday in Washington.

Scott first entered the national political scene as one of the staunchest critics of a bill that would later become Obamacare, setting up Conservatives for Patients Rights, a group dedicated to killing the bill.

NOW: Rick Scott pushes back on pre-existing conditions

TALLAHASSEE — Responding to a torrent of criticism from Democrats, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday repeated past statements that he supports maintaining protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions who purchase health insurance.

“My position has not changed — I do not agree with efforts to remove pre-existing conditions,” Scott said in a statement distributed by his U.S. Senate campaign and not the governor’s office. “I’ve continued to say that it is important to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and that every American, including those with pre-existing conditions, should have the ability to buy any kind of insurance they want.”


11. WEST VIRGINIA: Patrick Morrisey (currently Attorney General, running for U.S. Senate):

THEN (and NOW, actually): Patrick Morrisey is one of the 20 GOP Attorneys General and Governors who iscurrently seeking to have the ACA's protections for pre-existiing condition coverage repealed via the #TexasFoldEm lawsuit.

NOW: (notice that he even includes "repeal Obamacare!" in the very same tweet, which is pretty ballsy I admit):

We all agree pre-existing conditions need to be covered and I'm glad to see Congress doing its job to protect those who need it most. Manchin should quit siding with Schumer and Pelosi and vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. #WVsen

— AG Patrick Morrisey (@MorriseyWV) August 27, 2018

SIDENOTE re. Patrick Morrisey: In an unrelated case, two years ago, Morrissey, the Attorney General of West Virginia, actually sued the federal government for trusting West Virginia.


12. NEW JERSEY: Tom MacArthur (NJ-03, running for re-election):

THEN: Not only did Tom MacArthur vote for the AHCA, he's the one who wrote the amendment to the earlier version of the bill which specifically allowed states to strip away pre-existing condition protections:

Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) said Monday that he opposes the revised GOP ObamaCare replacement bill because it weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Long’s announcement was unexpected, and a bad sign for GOP leaders looking to round up enough votes to be able to pass the measure as soon as this week. Long was not on the radar as a possible no vote.

“I have always stated that one of the few good things about ObamaCare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered,” Long said in a statement. “The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.”

The amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) is a revision to the bill that brought on board most of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

It allows states to apply for a waiver for one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions, known as community rating. If that were repealed, insurers could go back to charging sick people exorbitant premiums, which could put coverage out of reach.

(Oh yeah...and while I gave MacArthur's fellow GOP Representative Billy Long credit at the time for saying he wouldn't vote for the AHCA due to this specific reason, guess what? In the end he voted for the bill version with the MacArthur amendment anyway).

NOW: N.J. Republican who tried to kill Obamacare faces heat for claiming his plan wouldn't hurt patients

Rep. Tom MacArthur told constituents that he acted to "make the coverage of pre-existing conditions sacrosanct" in his amendment that paved the way for House Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., made the claim in his latest taxpayer-financed mailing, where he also pledged to "protect health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions who are trying to obtain affordable health care."

Health care experts, medical groups and the Congressional Budget Office say he did the opposite.

"For people with pre-existing conditions, this amendment very much would have affected them," said Chris Sloan, director of Avalere Health, a research group. "It allowed states to apply for waivers to allow health plans to vary premiums based on their health status. That means people with pre-existing conditions will have to pay more in premiums."


13. TEXAS: Ted Cruz (Current U.S. Senator, running for re-election):

THEN: Cruz not only voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act a dozen time or more over the years, he directly led Congressional Republicans to shut down the federal government for 16 days in an attempt to defund the ACA. He also voted for last year's "Skinny Repeal" plan and would have voted for B-CRAP if it had made it to the Senate floor.

NOW:

Cruz, who lead the charge to repeal Obamacare, says in his closing argument he wants to save protections for pre existing conditions.

— Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurns) October 17, 2018

Oh yeah, one more thing...

Cruz, in closing, says he wants to protect preexisting conditions.

For years he vowed to repeal “every word of Obamacare.” In 2017 he authored an amendment to pave the way for skimpy low-cost plans exempt from preex rules (which would mean higher costs for preex customers).

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 17, 2018

Here's what Kapur is referring to: The Cruz-Lee Amendment which he tried to slap onto the Senate's B-CRAP bill.


14. PENNSYLVANIA: Lou Barletta (PA-11, running for U.S. Senate):

THEN: Barletta voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections. Furthermore, while he did oppose the first version of the AHCA (which, ironically, didn't strip away pre-existing condition protections), the only reason he did so was because he was concerned it wouldn't deny tax credits to undocumented immigrants.

As soon as he was certain that undocumented immigrants wouldn't receive tax credits, he voted for the revised version of the bill...which did let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW:

Bob Casey just released an insensitive and personal attack ad accusing Lou Barletta of wanting to rip away health care from twin children with cancer, after Lou personally told Casey of his 18-month-old twin grandson currently undergoing chemo for cancer. Here is Lou’s response: pic.twitter.com/CXgMq1f4YA

— Lou Barletta (@louforsenate) October 14, 2018

Technically speaking, in his video Barletta doesn't come right out and state that he "supports protections for those with pre-existing conditions", but he does spend over two minutes railing against his opponent for running an ad accurately noting that "If Lou Barletta has his way, kids like mine could be denied the care they need...in Congress, Barletta voted to let insurance companies strip coverage for pre-existing conditions".

For all of his outrage over the ad and his understandable anguish over how horrible it is for your grandchild with cancer, it doesn't appear to occur to Barletta that other people's children and grandchildren have cancer as well, and unlike members of Congress, most people don't earn $174,000 per year or have 72% of their premiums paid for by taxpayers.


15. ARIZONA: Martha McSally (AZ-02, running for U.S. Senate):

THEN: Not only did McSally vote for the AHCA last year, she was very excited about doing so:

Martha McSally stood up in GOP conference meeting and said let's get this "fucking thing" done.

Yes, direct quote — per members and aides.

— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) May 4, 2017

NOW:

Helluva line from Arizona GOP Senate candidate Martha McSally tonight: “We cannot go back to where we were before Obamacare, where people were one diagnosis away from going bankrupt.”

She voted for the AHCA, which repealed Obamacare.

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 16, 2018


16. MONTANA: Matt Rosendale (Current Insurance Commissioner, running for U.S. Senate):

THEN: GOP Senate Candidates Are Scrambling To Rewrite Their Record On Pre-Existing Conditions

And then there is Matt Rosendale, the Republican candidate who running against two-term incumbent Sen. Jon Tester in Montana. Rosendale is the state’s insurance commissioner, putting him in a unique position not just to talk about health care policy but also to enact it. Among his notable actions was last year’s decision to reverse a long-standing prohibition on Christian health sharing ministries ― which, like the plans Trump just approved, have some combination of exclusions for pre-existing conditions, limits on coverage and big gaps in benefits.

Rosendale, like the others, has been a vocal advocate for Obamacare repeal.

Oh yeah...one other thing: Last year, Matt Rosendale pulled a cynical, disingenous dick move by deliberately framing a non-profit insurance carrier into losing money for purely political reasons:

Montana commissioner chides insurance companies for raising rates, despite earlier offers to help

BOZEMAN — Montana's insurance commissioner chided two companies for raising rates on health insurance policies offered under the Affordable Care Act after federal subsidies ended, despite earlier telling them they could modify their rates if circumstances changed, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

...Matt Rosendale said he was "extremely disheartened" that PacificSource and the Co-op increased their premiums, adding that he had been assured by the companies that with or without the cost-sharing reduction payments they would be able to honor the rates they first submitted.

However, the Chronicle, through a Freedom of Information Act request, obtained letters Rosendale wrote to the companies in August saying that his office was aware of the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act and he would work with them to "ensure rates are modified to address new circumstances."

..."Why is he frustrated with something that was foreseeable?" Ward asked. "To be honest, it seems like a political game." Rosendale is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Jon Tester.

Read the whole story for details, but what basically happened was this:

  • Most health insurance industry experts were pretty sure that Donald Trump was going to cut off CSR payments sooner or later.
  • Some insurance carriers prepared for this possibility by jacking up rates; others were reluctant to do so.
  • In Montana, Rosendale apparently told the 3 insurance carriers in the state to stick with lower increases for the moment, assuring them that if and when Trump lowered the boom, they'd have his blessing to go ahead and jack up rates as necessary later in the summer.
  • When that did happen, Rosendale suddenly developed amnesia: "Blessing? What blessing? I said nothing of the sort! You have to stick with your original rates!"
  • A FOIA request proved that Rosendale was lying about not giving any assurances
  • Busted, Rosendale did a 180 and allowed the carriers to refile at the higher rates after all.

NOW: Protect pre-existing conditions, lower health care costs

For several years, my mom fought a battle with dementia and faced numerous health complications along the way. A few months ago, the doctors found a large mass on her kidney but they were unable to perform surgery because of her frail state and her health rapidly deteriorated until she passed away.

...Montanans deserve better. I will never give up on repealing and replacing Obamacare. I will continue to fight for health care reform that actually lowers premiums, protects Montanans with pre-existing conditions, and offers plans that fits our budget and personal decisions.

...My promise to each and every one of you is that I will never stop fighting to expand access and bring more affordable health care to Montana families and small businesses, and I will always protect those Montanans with pre-existing conditions.


17. IOWA: David Young (IA-03, running for re-election):

THEN: He voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: Young leads resolution supporting protections for those with pre-existing conditions

Iowa Congressman David Young led a group of 27 members of the House of Representatives in introducing a resolution (H.Res. 1066) stating Congress must support protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

"I have sat with families at Blank Children's Hospital and with Iowans with disabilities in their homes who, like me, want to ensure protections for those with pre-existing conditions remain strong. I have always supported protecting those with pre-existing conditions and have ensured they can't be denied coverage or charged more. This is the latest of many steps I have taken to make sure Iowans with pre-existing conditions continue to have the protections they deserve and get the care they need," said Congressman Young.

The resolution states in part, "...it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should support protections in law for individuals with pre-existing conditions; and in the case of a court ruling that would hinder such protections, act swiftly to reinstate such protections for such individuals."

...which means exactly nothing. This is literally just a piece of paper saying "hey, whatever we come up with after we repeal the ACA's protections should probably include those same protections."


18. UTAH: Mia Love (UT-04, running for re-election):

THEN: She voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: Mia Love: AHCA and the Problems of the Status Quo

The biggest misconception about the replacement for ACA is about pre-existing conditions. NO STATE, under ANY circumstances, may get a waiver for guaranteed issue of coverage, guaranteed renewability of coverage or the prohibition on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. This bill also ensures that no one can be denied coverage.

This, again, is a red herring. As I explained above, the AHCA would require that carriers provide A policy to those with PECs, but the policy which is provided could easily cost those folks tens of thousands of dollars more, or could simply not cover the condition in question in the first place.

Critics question whether people would be priced out of the market. It is important to note that 5 percent of patients account for 50 percent of health care costs and that is part of why premiums keep growing. To address these issues, the bill will help states set up programs for high-risk individuals, premium stabilizers or the federal invisible risk-sharing program.

...except that the amount of money provided for high-risk pools and so forth fell far short of what would actually be needed to properly fund those programs, and would leave that population vulnerable to being isolated, stigmatized and cut off from funding later on when no one was looking...which are among the very reasons state-based high risk pools were replaced by the ACA in the first place.


19. NEVADA: Dean Heller (Current U.S. Senator, running for re-election):

THEN: Where Things Stand: Watch Out for McConnell's Bait-and-Switch on the Senate Repeal Bill

Watch for a bait-and-switch on a repeal bill to offered as an amendment on Thursday or Friday

McConnell’s final amendment in this process is likely to be a short bill—so-called “skinny” repeal or "lowest common denominator"—that cobbles together, like Frankenstein, parts of previous bills that include a repeal of the individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax. The thinking is this Frankenstein bill is the only way to keep repeal alive, as it has a chance of garnering the 50 votes needed to pass.

If the Senate passes the Frankenstein bill, watch for a bait-and-switch during the subsequent conference. Republicans could swap out the Frankenstein bill to craft a full repeal and replace bill in a conference committee and then bring it back to the Senate with fast-track protections, including only 10 hours of debate and no amendments.

This bill would likely be worse than any bill we’ve seen so far.

Heller voted for the so-called "Skinny Repeal" bill noted above, which officially would have kept coverage of pre-existing conditions (while gutting the rest of the law)...but he did so knowing damned well that Mitch McConnell's entire goal in the first place was to pass the "Skinny" bill purely as a shell to swap out the language within it for an even more devastating repeal bill, which would then go on to become law without any changes allowed.

NOW: Republicans Are Suddenly Running Ads on Pre-existing Conditions. But How Accurate Are They?

Mr. Heller’s ad shows the tube man waving on a screen beside a television camera and a director’s chair labeled ROSEN. “Jacky Rosen’s idea of fixing health care: a campaign commercial,” Mr. Heller says, as the camera zooms out. Mr. Heller criticizes Ms. Rosen for failing to advance health care legislation, saying: “I’m fighting to protect pre-existing conditions and increase funding for Nevadans who need it most. Jacky, I’ll stack my record up against yours any day.” The commercial closes with another shot of the tube man.


20. NORTH DAKOTA: Kevin Cramer (ND-ALL, running for U.S. Senate):

THEN: He voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: Republicans Are Suddenly Running Ads on Pre-existing Conditions. But How Accurate Are They?

There are cows. “Come on, Heidi, the word’s out,” the ad’s narrator says, citing news reports fact-checking aspects of Ms. Heitkamp’s ads that criticized Mr. Cramer’s health care record. “It’s a stampede,” the voice says, as cows trot across the screen, pursued by a cowboy with a lasso. (Side note: Is this a stampede?) The narrator explains that “Kevin Cramer voted for guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.” Ms. Heitkamp’s health care advertisements, the narrator says, “don’t pass the smell test.” Then a cow moos.


21. WASHINGTON STATE: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05, running for re-election):

THEN: She voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

NOW: House GOP leader McMorris Rodgers faces Obamacare backlash

In past election cycles, the seven-term lawmaker might have had an easy talking point: Repeal and replace Obamacare. But like other Republicans who suddenly find themselves on the defensive on health care, she avoids mentioning her party’s long-standing pledge to eliminate the 2010 law.

McMorris Rodgers is not just another endangered Republican facing a tough race. She’s No. 4 in the House Republican leadership — and the only woman. The fact that she’s now steering clear of one of the GOP’s core tenets about repealing Obamacare shows just how treacherous the health care issue has become on the campaign trail. A mother of three, including a child with Down syndrome, McMorris Rodgers is often portrayed as a softer, more compassionate face of a party that’s tacked harder right in the age of Trump. But she’s also the sole Washington state lawmaker to have voted to repeal Obamacare last year.

Now, she faces attack ads spotlighting that vote, not to mention lawn signs imploring voters to “repeal McMorris Rodgers, not our health care.” And while McMorris Rodgers talks about the importance of insurance protections for people like her son who have pre-existing conditions, she voted for a bill that health experts largely agree would have eroded those protections.


22. OHIO: Mike DeWine (Currently Attorney General, running for Governor):

Ohio Republican Mike DeWine changed position on Medicaid expansion

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Republican running for governor, announced July 11 that he supports keeping Medicaid expansion, leading Democrats to accuse him of flip-flopping.

"The DeWine-Husted Administration will need to keep extended Medicaid coverage for adults," DeWine said during a press conference where the Ohio State Medical Association PAC endorsed his campaign. "We will also reform the program. This is consistent with what we have been saying."

...We found that for years DeWine has opposed the Affordable Care Act, which included Medicaid expansion. At times he has been vague when pressed to give a yes-or-no answer on Medicaid expansion, and he’s repeated a talking point that he wanted to reform the program. In July, he came out in support of the expansion.

On DeWine’s first day in office as attorney general in 2011, he authorized Ohio to join the multistate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

His statement called the law a "huge federal overreach" and criticized the individual mandate. The lawsuit challenged a few core provisions of the law, including Medicaid expansion, which came with an implied threat that the government would withhold funding unless states complied.

When DeWine spelled out what he thought were the sins of the law in an op-ed in the Washington Times in 2012, he included Medicaid expansion, although Ohio had not yet signed on to expansion.

"Obamacare is, quite simply, the federal version of Romneycare," DeWine wrote the day after the lawsuit was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. "All of the problems that we have seen unfold in Massachusetts -- doctor shortages, Medicaid expansion and escalating health insurance costs -- are already starting to take place across the country as Obamacare is implemented."

...When DeWine launched his campaign for governor in June 2017, he was asked at a forum if he would end Medicaid expansion.

"I’m against Obamacare; this is part of Obamacare," he said.

...DeWine said that "there is no change" to his Medicaid policy.

...For years, DeWine has opposed the Affordable Care Act, which included Medicaid expansion. DeWine's position has evolved, though. During the primary he said that the program was financially unsustainable and needed reform, but he's also said that Medicaid expansion helped drug addicts pay for treatment. On July 11, DeWine announced that he would keep Medicaid expansion.

The change of positions has happened over the course of several years, but it is a distinct change. We rate this a Full Flop.


23. INDIANA: Jackie Walorski (IN-02, running for re-election):

Yes, she voted for the AHCA, which would have let states strip away pre-existing condition protections.

What is Jackie Walorski's voting record on coverage for pre-existing conditions?

...“Eleven times,” Hall said to Walorski at the live, televised debate. “Eleven times. Not once, not twice, not three times. Eleven times you voted to take health care away from those with pre-existing conditions. That’s not a matter of opinion. That’s data.”

Hall recently listed the 11 House votes in a tweet he posted in reply to a tweet from Walorski in which she shared a new 30-second TV campaign ad. The ad shows Walorski with her friend, Mary, who has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer.

“Don’t believe the false attacks,” Walorski wrote in the tweet. “I’ve always stood up for Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions like Mary, and I always will.”

Two other times in the debate, Walorski said she had voted to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions.

...To support their debate assertions, both candidates are pointing to some of the same votes that Walorski has cast in the House, leaving the answer in the details. Critics say a careful analysis of those details reveals that Republican candidates have rushed to jump on the bandwagon, proclaiming their support for bills that are very narrow in scope and won’t ultimately be meaningful.

One such vote came on May 4, 2017, when Walorski voted for House Resolution 1628, a GOP-led bill to repeal and replace the ACA, commonly known as “Obamacare.” The bill, named the American Health Care Act, passed the House but not the Senate.

BONUS: It gets even worse:

'Mary' in Jackie Walorski ad is not at risk of losing coverage for pre-existing condition

A woman featured in a Jackie Walorski campaign ad might have a pre-existing health condition, but she’s not at risk of losing her health coverage because of it, regardless of what’s happening in Washington.

That’s because the woman, Mary Olson, as a member of the Elkhart Common Council, has been covered under the city’s employee group health insurance plan since 2006, according to public records.

Federal law allows insurers to base group plan premiums on a group’s claims history, but it has long prohibited such employer-based plans, which cover most Americans, from denying coverage to eligible individuals because of their medical history.

Yup, that's right...employer-based plans, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, were already not allowed to deny coverage based on people's medical condition. It was only the individual market which allowed this before the Affordable Care Act...and that's exactly the population whose coverage protections Walorski's vote for the AHCA put at risk last year.


24. Special Case: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Donald J. Trump (President*, already running for re-election in 2020):

Welp. SOMEONE decided to completely swamp this entire "gaslighting GOP candidate" project by taking a big, fat, orange dump on the whole thing:

All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them. I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2018

Holy Shit.


(note: this is a work in progress...check back soon for more additions.)