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Dems Spend Millions To Mislead Voters About Pre-existing Conditions

Health Reform: Democrats want health care to be a major deciding issue in the midterm elections and are spending a fortune running campaign ads. Too bad most of the ads make the false claim that Republicans would take away protections for pre-existing conditions.




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From January to July, Democrats spent some $17 million for 56,000 health care ads on behalf of Senate candidates, according to USA Today.

The Wesleyan Media Project reported that 44% of all the ads for congressional Democrats focused on health care. In Senate races, half of the ads were on health care, and another 16% on prescription drug costs.

“Democrats are really focusing the bulk of their messaging on health care as their signature issue,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

And the bulk of these ads consist of claims that Republicans want to take away protections for pre-existing conditions. In one, a constituent asks why anyone would vote “to let insurance companies go back to denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

Democrats know that this issue polls well. But the attacks both exaggerate the problem and distort the Republican’s approach to health care reform.

Exaggerated Impact

The fact is that ObamaCare extended pre-existing protections to only a relatively small portion of the population — those who buy insurance on their own. The individual market comprises just 7% of the total insurance market. And of those, only a much smaller fraction had ever been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions before ObamaCare.

Everyone else already had this protection. State and federal laws already mandated that large group plans couldn’t charge more or deny coverage for someone because of a pre-existing condition. States had similar laws in place for small group plans.

Medicare and Medicaid, which cover 33% of the population, provide guaranteed coverage to those eligible. As does the Veterans Health Administration, which covers nearly 9 million veterans.

Meanwhile, Republicans’ ObamaCare replacement plan included protections for those with pre-existing conditions. They just had a different — and we’d argue, far better and less costly — approach.

GOP Alternatives

One GOP idea was to create subsidized high-risk pools for those whose health needs would truly make them ineligible for coverage. Another was to provide protections for those who maintain continuous coverage. That would prevent people from gaming the system by waiting until they’re sick to buy insurance. (In contrast to ObamaCare, which encourages people to game the system.) Still another was to expand access to group coverage by removing needless government restrictions on “association health plans.”

Whatever anyone thinks of the Republican alternatives, it’s clear that ObamaCare’s approach is failing. Its rules and mandates led to double-digit price increases year after year, which have priced millions of families out of the insurance market altogether. (So much for guaranteed coverage.) Those who can afford ObamaCare coverage have no choice but to enroll in HMO-style plans with extremely high deductibles. (So much for making insurance “affordable.”)

The GOP proposals aren’t perfect, a point we made in this space many times. But ObamaCare as it exists today is a disaster. It promises affordable coverage, but makes it impossible for millions to get it. And it requires massive taxpayer subsidies to bring individual insurance within reach of anyone.

The massive health care ad campaign may help Democrats win control of the House, and possibly the Senate, in November. But if they do, they’ll be the ones responsible for figuring out how to deal with the ObamaCare mess they created eight years ago.

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