The Republican ‘Protect Act’ Will Protect Nobody’s Health Care

Joni Ernst

Sen. Joni Ernst

Photo by U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine

As Election Day draws near, another important date is looming for tens of millions of Americans with preexisting health conditions: Nov. 10, the day the Supreme Court will hear arguments on striking down the Affordable Care Act.

Despite the claims of Republican lawmakers, who swear abolishing Obamacare will not result in millions losing insurance, an examination of their alternative, the so-called Protect Act, shows that they're lying through their teeth.

The GOP effort to bulldoze the ACA was put on blast Wednesday when Democrat Jon Ossoff, whom current poll averages show in a tight race against Georgia Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue, confronted Perdue during a debate with his deceptive talking points on the future of the American health care system.

"It's not just that you're a crook, Senator. It's that you're attacking the health of the people that you represent," Ossoff said. "You did say COVID-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. ... And you did vote four times to end protections for preexisting conditions. Four times."

Ossoff continued: "The legislation that you tout, the Protect Act, it includes loopholes that specifically allow insurance companies to deny policies to Georgians with preexisting conditions. Can you look down the camera and tell the people of this state why you voted four times to allow insurance companies to deny us health coverage because we may suffer from diabetes or heart disease or asthma or have cancer in remission? Why, Senator?"

During the debate, Perdue's Twitter account posted: "I believe health insurance should always cover pre-existing conditions. Period. I've sponsored legislation to do just that."

But as Ossoff highlighted, the Protect Act does not protect people with preexisting conditions.

University of Pennsylvania law professor Allison Hoffman told Politifact in 2018 that the the Protect Act contains loopholes insurance companies could exploit to deny such coverage: "Insurers could exclude someone's preexisting conditions from coverage, even if they offered her a policy." Insurance companies would be able to increase the price of such coverage and make it impossible for someone with existing health conditions to afford.

GOP lawmakers up for reelection in 2020 continue to claim they will protect insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions as they work to eliminate Obamacare. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has run ads touting her efforts, with the tagline, "I approve this message because no American should ever be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition — not in my family or yours." Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska ran an ad in which he talked of his support for "affordable health care and protecting preexisting conditions."

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pushed the claim that preexisting conditions aren't that widespread anyway, tweeting: "The left, including Joe Biden in Tuesday's debate, overstates the problem of pre-existing conditions to justify political control of health care."

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has claimed for four years that his administration will deliver an effective alternative to Obamacare that will bring down premiums, lower drug prices, and create a far less expensive health insurance system. He has failed to offer any such legislation.

According to a Quinnipiac poll released last week, voters overwhelmingly trust Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over Trump when it comes to handling health care.

"There is no way he can protect preexisting conditions. None. Zero. You can't do it in the ether," Biden said during the presidential debate earlier this month.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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