Pre-existing conditions continues to take spotlight in U.S. Senate race

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is pushing her Republican opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, on the issue of healthcare and his lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, McCaskill’s campaign announced a “30 for 30” series, which features stories from Missouri citizens with pre-existing conditions, a new one each day over the course of 30 days.

It’s a response to the fact that Hawley was one of 20 state attorney generals who filed a suit earlier this year to block the implementation of former President Obama’s healthcare law.

If a judge grants the request to block the law, insurance companies would be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Missouri Democrats have argued that halting the law would effectively strip health care from 2.5 million people in their state alone.

“As I talk to Missourians across the state, almost everyone I meet has a story about a loved one who lives with a pre-existing condition,” McCaskill said in the release announcing the 30 for 30 campaign. “Now they have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to keep their health insurance, all because Josh Hawley sided with the insurance companies and filed a lawsuit to take away pre-existing condition protections. Not going to happen. I won’t let it.”

Hawley, however, contends that he is in favor of the coverage of pre-existing conditions. He says that his issue, instead, lies with the ACA, which he says unconstitutional and is holding citizens “hostage.”

“I think insurance companies should be forced to cover pre-existing conditions,” he said. “What I do not support is big government, big insurance collusion, which is what Obamacare is.”

Indeed, research from politifact.com finds that the claim that 2.5 million would lose health insurance is “Half True.”

The reason for this is that the estimates vary from group to group. The Department of Health and Senior Services also found that the Center for American Progress, who provided the 2.5 million number, used broader definitions of “pre-existing conditions.”

Under the narrow definition, HHS found, 23 percent of non-elderly Americans nationally have a pre-existing condition, while under the broad definition, 51 percent of non-elderly Americans do.

Another estimate, this one from the Kaiser Family Foundation, puts the number around 1.1 million.

Arguments in the ACA case, filed in Texas, kicked off last week, but as long as it’s being heard in court, it will continue to be a point of contention in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.