It’s a keystone of Obamacare, and you’re probably seeing it mentioned a lot in recent political ads.
Pre-existing conditions and access to affordable health insurance have become a hot-button issue in the upcoming midterm election.
Why? Ask Ellen Gardner, who was voting early Wednesday in Tampa.
“One illness can tank you financially,” said Gardner.
She knows, because Gardner remembers being diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, “And was denied insurance twice. Because I had a malignant melanoma,” she says.
The disease didn’t ask her if she was conservative or liberal.
And when Robert Zwart, also voting in Tampa on Wednesday, needed liver surgery eight weeks ago, doctors never asked him whether he was a democrat or republican.
“You know, it would’ve cost me $50,000,” said Zwart. “And it wouldn’t put me on the street but would’ve taken a clump out of my retirement.”
For Florida voters like these, access to health care, affordable insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions is a matter of life and death.
“I would be in so much trouble, you wouldn’t believe it,” said Zwart.
One of the reasons pre-existing and conditions may have become an issue here in the midterm elections is because chances are you or someone you know likely has one.
It is the one part of Obamacare that just about anyone, Democrat or Republican, can agree on.
It also explains why you’re seeing lots of commercials. Most of them are from Democrats accusing Republicans of threatening to do away with the pre-existing condition aspect of the Affordable Care Act Other ads often feature Republicans saying that’s not true.
In a recent commercial, Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for the U.S. Senate, claims to support coverage for pre-existing conditions.
“I support forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. For Senator Nelson it’s just another political issue. But for me, it's personal,” he says.
But Scott’s administration joined a Republican-backed lawsuit threatening the ACA, and Scott has been a vocal critic calling for a full repeal of Obamacare. It’s a position Scott’s Democratic opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, has seized upon.
“They were talking to me about that all over Florida. About Rick Scott having tried to take away their health care,” said Nelson. “And I think it’s going to be a major factor when they go in the voting booth and vote.”
In the race for governor, Republican Ron DeSantis also claims he supports coverage for pre-existing conditions. But as part of the conservative Freedom Caucus in Congress, critics say he repeatedly voted for changes that would have weakened those protections. And his support for an Obamacare alternative – the American Healthcare Act - could’ve made premiums for some preexisting conditions unaffordable.
DeSantis denies those accusations, “And it’s a total lie to say that I’ve ever done anything to try to change any of that protection,” he said.
But DeSantis’s Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum says DeSantis is the one who’s being less than truthful. “Because he voted in Congress repeatedly to repeal the ACA and also to allow insurance companies to discriminate against people based off of pre-existing conditions. That is his record,” said Gillum.
It’s estimated 8million people in Florida having some sort of pre-existing condition, and that two million of them could immediately be at risk for losing benefits.
With those kinds of numbers, it’s little wonder, say voters, it’s become an issue.
“Yeah, in our political climate they will make political hay of that,” said voter Margaret Deufeny, “But, that’s what our politicians do, right?”
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