A new campaign advertisement in North Dakota reminding voters that Republicans want to strip patient protections from millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions is only the beginning with November mid-term elections approaching.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a breast cancer survivor, highlights her Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer’s support of legislation that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and its patient protections for those like her and a North Dakota woman in the ad with heart disease. But Heitkamp doesn’t even need to mention the ACA or “Obamacare.”
“Like 300,000 North Dakotans, Denise has a pre-existing condition,” Sen. Heitkamp says in the ad. “That used to mean no health insurance.” Then Denise Sandvick of Killdeer, N.D., calls out Cramer’s support of dismantling patient protection legislation asking him in the ad why he “voted to let insurance companies go back to denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.”
Look for similar ads to launch in coming weeks by Democrats against other GOP candidates.
“Absolutely we will be seeing more ads holding Republicans accountable, like this powerful one from Sen. Heitkamp,” Protect Our Care spokeswoman Amanda Harrington said. “Any Republican candidate who voted for health care repeal, or sued to take away protections for people in the law, or says they support overturning it will have to answer for this on the campaign trail. This should worry them, because at a time when health care is a top issue to voters, they have actively worked to take away Americans’ health care.”
Though repealing the ACA would have led to more than 20 million people losing coverage, the loss of patient protections built into the law would have impacted six times as many people.
There are more than 120 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and the ACA prevents health plans from dropping patients with illnesses, which was a common occurrence before the law, particularly for those working at small businesses. And those seeking individual coverage weren’t able to get it because health plans banned certain people with pre-existing conditions.
Preserving patient protections has been an intensifying battle for insurers including Anthem, Centene, Molina Healthcare, Oscar Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that sell individual coverage under the ACA known as Obamacare.
The North Dakota ad featuring two women could also be an effective tactic for Democratic candidates running against Republicans to gain the female vote this November given the ACA helped level the playing field for those buying healthcare coverage.
In a report last month, Vox reminded voters how “Obamacare ended insurance discrimination against women.”
“It’s almost hard to remember now, but in the days before the Affordable Care Act was in place, health insurance companies routinely charged women in America more than men,” the report by Vox’s Dylan Scott said. “Some women were deemed uninsurable because they had preexisting conditions like pregnancy or a breast cancer diagnosis. Now Obamacare makes that illegal — but Donald Trump’s election endangered those protections.”
For more information on healthcare, read Bruce Japsen’s book, Inside Obamacare: From Barack And Michelle To The Affordable Care Act.