AP FACT CHECK: Ad on Bacon’s health care vote is partly true

Democrats hope Kara Eastman will unseat first-term Republican Rep. Don Bacon Tuesday in Nebraska’s most competitive U.S. congressional race, a district centering on the Omaha area where the GOP has reigned for 22 of the last 24 years.

Democratic groups and politicians across the country are attacking Republican candidates for their health care record. It’s become a central issue in the campaign, with Republicans saying Eastman’s support for “Medicare for all” is too extreme and costly for taxpayers while Democrats argue Bacon has voted to strip benefits from the Affordable Care Act.

The latest ad, launched by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee super PAC, began airing this week and attacks Bacon for his vote on a health care bill. The ad is narrated by an Omaha voter who says he’s a Republican and supported President Donald Trump, but won’t vote for Bacon.

A look at the ad’s claim:

THE CLAIM: “He voted to let insurers deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.” - TV ad that began running Wednesday.

THE FACTS: The ad is partially true. The key word in the claim is “deny.” Bacon’s vote would not have allowed insurers to outright deny someone with a pre-existing condition, but it would have allowed them to raise prices, which could have the same effect by making coverage too expensive.

Bacon’s vote last year for the GOP-backed American Health Care Act would have eliminated some protections made law in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Bacon also criticized the ACA in 2016 when running for Congress and supported a 2017 budget bill that paved the way to overturn it.

The ACA introduced a number of new health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The law prohibited insurers from denying coverage based on a person’s medical history or refusing to cover someone’s pre-existing condition.

The bill Bacon backed would have allowed states to lift the Affordable Care Act rule that prohibited insurers from charging higher premiums for those with pre-existing conditions, making health insurance unaffordable for some. Under that bill, states could have also allowed insurers to sell lower-cost policies that covered fewer services.

That would have significantly weakened protections for pre-existing conditions, said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health research organization. Insurers, she said, often look for ways to skimp on coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

“Before the ACA, insurers had multiple strategies for avoiding people with pre-existing conditions: insurers could turn you down, could charge you more or exclude your pre-existing condition,” Pollitz said. “For insurance to work for people with pre-existing conditions, there have to be airtight protections.”

An estimated 275,000 Nebraska residents over the age of 65 have a pre-existing condition, according to the foundation. Most Americans with pre-existing conditions didn’t have issues getting health insurance before the Affordable Care Act’s passage because they were insured through their employer or the state government. Federal rules forbid employer health plans from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions prior to the federal overhaul.


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