Iowa Voices, a Democrat PAC, released an ad tying the COVID-19 pandemic in their attack U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, highlighting her voting record as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.

The ad starts with a message from Dr. Daniel McGuire.

“I’ve dedicated the last 30 years of my life to trying to help patients. Many of us have pre-existing conditions, something as simple as high blood pressure,” he said.

A narrator comes on to say, “We’re in a public health crisis, and those with pre-existing conditions are most of them. But Joni Ernst voted to take away their health care.”

McGuire then says, “Many of my patients would no longer have health insurance. Tell senator Joni Ernst to stop voting to deny my patients health insurance.”

Iowa Voices tweeted:

https://twitter.com/IowaVoices/status/1249799660795039749

“NEW: Des Moines doctor says many of his patients would no longer have health insurance if @SenJoniErnst got her way… @SenJoniErnst, stop voting against our health care,” the tweet says.

Doctors Have Political Agendas Too

What the ad or tweet does not reveal is that Dr. Daniel McGuire is the husband of Dr. Andy McGuire, the Iowa Democratic Party chair from 2015 to 2017, and failed Democrat gubernatorial candidate in 2018. So Dr. Dan McGuire, an orthopedic surgeon, is not a typical physician and has a partisan agenda.

Important information for voters to have, don’t you think? 

Ernst Advocates Protecting Iowans With Pre-existing Conditions

Ernst campaigned in 2014 to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. She won, handily, defeating then U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who voted for ACA. After taking office, Ernst has taken several votes to “repeal and replace” ACA. 

The complaint that Ernst wants to “take away people’s health care,” I find rich considering almost all of the Democratic presidential candidates backed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan that would eliminate private health insurance.

Also, after ACA went into law, thousands of Americans lost their health insurance. Iowa saw several insurers pull out of the state’s healthcare exchange. Iowans have continually seen rate increases. U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, recently complained about the coverage she has.

Ernst, while supporting the repeal and replacement of ACA, also expressed her concern about those with pre-existing conditions. 

“Health care reform should be focused on choice, not mandates. Yet, it is important that we protect people with pre-existing conditions, as we repeal and replace Obamacare. To guarantee the availability of coverage in the individual or group market, including people with pre-existing conditions, I co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit discrimination against beneficiaries based on health status,” Ernst said in a statement on December 15, 2018. 

She co-sponsored a bill, along with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, R-N.C., that guaranteed the availability of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions on the individual and group health insurance market. She highlighted protecting Iowans with pre-existing conditions in an op/ed in the Quad-City Times

In 2017, as the Senate took a step toward repealing and replacing ACA, Ernst addressed pre-existing conditions in a statement on January 12, 2017. 

“The action taken by the Senate is a step towards repealing this disastrous health care law. Iowans deserve affordable health care coverage that meets individuals’ and families’ needs, instead of Washington deciding what is needed in your health care plan,” she said. “As we work to repeal and replace this bill, I recognize that it is critical to have a stable transition period in place and to ensure that folks with pre-existing conditions are not denied coverage.

So yes, it’s true that Ernst has voted to repeal and replace ACA, she campaigned on it. It’s equally true that she is on the record advocating and has co-sponsored legislation that would protect those on with pre-existing conditions.

The ad is disingenuous. 

Ernst’s Votes on ACA Has Little Bearing on the COVID-19 Crisis

ACA’s requirement that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions is still in effect. It has not been repealed. 

Those who currently have insurance plans through the ACA state exchanges are not in danger of losing them unless they’re unable to pay their premiums – a real possibility for those who lost their jobs. 

Those who are most at risk of losing health insurance are those who have it through their job. ACA has made finding affordable private individual insurance harder, not easier. First, finding an insurance plan outside of a group is extremely difficult, if not impossible, outside of a state exchange. Second, finding one that is reasonably priced for those who are unemployed is impossible. 

So linking her record to the pandemic is atrocious. 

Dark Money for Me, But Not for Thee

To a candidate, every Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Iowa has bemoaned the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Still, not a one has criticized the fact that Iowa Values is a dark money group that benefits them. 

Personally, these groups do not bother me, but hypocrisy does. The likely U.S. Senate Democratic challenger to Ernst is Theresa Greenfield who complained relentlessly about it while ten percent of her 2019 contributions were from dark money groups. Those are direct contributions to her campaign. This Iowa Voices ad is above and beyond.

Now, Ernst has dark money donations as well and will likely have Republican-leaning groups run ads here as well. 

She’s not the one complaining about it though. 

Policy Debates are Great, Preying Upon Pandemic Fears Are Not

It’s one thing to compare health care policies and plans. That is expected during a campaign. Americans benefit when candidates do that in a good-faith way.

This latest Iowa Voices ad is not that. It is not honest about the physician participating in the ad. It is not truthful about Ernst’s record. Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect that from political ads regardless of the source. That is par for the course. What’s despicable is how Iowa Voices preys upon Iowans’ pandemic fears. 

Shame on them. 

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