With a tight Nov. 6 election approaching, local Republican incumbents in Congress are trying to rewrite history regarding their unbridled effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Back in 2016 and early 2017, they could hardly contain their zeal to rip Obamacare to shreds. Today, as Obamacare’s popularity is surging, it’s a different story.
Illinois Republican Reps. Mike Bost of Murphysboro and Rodney Davis of Taylorville would have voters believe they’ve been longtime, strong supporters when it came to Obamacare’s mandatory insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. That and the ability of young people under age 26 to remain on their parents’ policies remain two of Obamacare’s most popular features.
But did they really fight hard to preserve such coverage when it mattered? We’ve accessed an online tool that allows users to view old websites even after they’ve been scrubbed. The incumbents’ current claims simply aren’t supported by their statements before and during the early 2017 effort to repeal Obamacare. The GOP replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, or AHCA, passed in the House but failed in the Senate.
Bost’s current congressional website carries the statement: “Since day one in Congress, I have been crystal clear that we must protect individuals with pre-existing conditions from losing coverage.” Yet nothing in his record or on his website supports that claim.
Archived statements on his website speak only of his dedication to “dismantle Obamacare” no matter what. In 2016, Bost told this editorial board that he would not vote to kill Obamacare unless a viable replacement was in hand. He voted to repeal Obamacare anyway, including its mandate for coverage of pre-existing conditions.
The AHCA bill did have pre-existing coverage provisions, but it severely weakened Obamacare protections, and independent assessments deemed the replacement to be prohibitively expensive, especially for low-income people. One of Bost’s chief complaints about Obamacare was how “unaffordable” it is.
Davis paid lip service in early 2017 to the pre-existing conditions issue. Out of dozens of statements he released on health care issues, he devoted roughly seven sentences to that subject.
His most expansive comments were in a May 4, 2017, press release complaining about “misinformation” that AHCA opponents were spreading about its pre-existing-conditions provision. “This is insulting to me as someone whose wife is an 18-year survivor of colon cancer,” he wrote. The AHCA “does not weaken pre-existing conditions. The same protections currently mandated under Obamacare to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions remain.”
In a May 25, 2017, statement comparing the Democrat and Republican health care plans, however, Davis mentioned not a single word about provisions for pre-existing conditions.
Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, has been reticent on the issue throughout, although she has co-sponsored bills to protect patients with pre-existing conditions should GOP-led states like Missouri be successful in their lawsuit to kill Obamacare.
These positions should matter to voters who want to know what their incumbents are actually fighting for — as opposed to what they claim just to win your support.