I was going to get around to this, but Steve Benen has already done it for me. McSally, Trump haunted by their records on pre-existing conditions:
Donald Trump traveled to Arizona this week, where he delivered a strange speech that touched on a key national issue.
“We will always protect people with pre-existing conditions. And you have Martha’s pledge that she is going to do that also. So, we’re going to do that. And the Democrats can’t make that pledge….”
The whole point was a mess. Trump, who’s repeatedly lied about his position on protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, is currently asking the Supreme Court to destroy the Affordable Care Act in its entirety — and if the justices were to agree, it would necessarily end those protections. [This case is scheduled for oral argument in October.] For that matter, the idea that “Democrats can’t make that pledge” is bizarre, since Democrats are the only ones who created the existing protections in the first place.
Every Republican in Congress, save one, voted against the ACA. For years after that, Republicans voted multiple dozens of times to repeal the ACA without any replacement bill to protect pre-existing conditions (this included Martha McSally in multiple votes).
But I was also struck by the reference to “Martha” and her “pledge.”
The president was, of course, referring to appointed, not elected Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who’s facing a tough race in Arizona this year, just two years after losing a different tough Senate race in her state. Hoping to avoid the same fate, the Republican seems eager to present herself to voters as if she were a moderate — almost center-left — on health care.
A few months ago, for example, McSally’s campaign unveiled an ad featuring a cancer survivor who said the GOP senator is “fighting for what’s right when it comes to pre-existing conditions and making sure everybody has access to health care.” What viewers weren’t told was that the woman giving the testimonial was one of McSally’s own former aides.
This week, the Republican lawmaker unveiled another ad in which she again says she’s committed to “protecting those with pre-existing conditions.”
I don’t doubt that McSally’s team has polling data that shows how important this issue is to voters, which is very likely why she keeps repeating the line. The trouble is, McSally’s record is getting in the way.
In 2017, at Trump’s behest, House Republicans pushed a far-right “repeal-and-replace” plan, intended to scrap the Affordable Care Act and impose a regressive alternative. As regular readers may recall, it was controversial and wildly unpopular for a reason: the GOP plan, among other things, was designed to allow private insurers to punish Americans with pre-existing conditions, charging them much higher premiums.
But some in the GOP ranks demanded the party press on anyway. According to some accounts, then-Rep. Martha McSally told her partisan allies ahead of the vote, “Let’s get this f**king thing done!” She proceeded to vote for her party’s scheme.
It ended up failing anyway — even the White House distanced itself from the far-right proposal that McSally supported — leaving its supporters high and dry. The next year, House Republicans lost their majority altogether, and plenty of campaign analysts agree that the GOP’s health-care gambit had a lot to do with their electoral failure.
Indeed, during her 2018 Senate candidacy, McSally tried to pretend she was vaguely progressive on health care, but she lost the race after Democrats focused heavily on the Republican plan she voted for.
And now, it’s déjà vu all over again. McSally is again vowing to look out for those with pre-existing conditions — a claim that’s drawn fire from fact-checkers before — despite having supported a plan that would’ve hurt those with pre-existing conditions — as Donald Trump does largely the same thing.
In addition to the Washington Post fact check above, here is one from Politifact. Fact-checking Martha McSally on pre-existing conditions (2018). “We rate it Mostly False.”
UPDATE: And the latest fact check from Politifact (6/22/20). Arizona Sen. McSally makes health care pledge that contradicts past votes, policy positions:
In her new TV ad, McSally claims she will “always protect those with preexisting conditions.”
But nothing in her voting record, which tracks closely with the Republican repeal-and-replace philosophy, supports this claim. And she has continually declined opportunities to oppose a pending legal threat to the ACA, including its provisions related to preexisting conditions, by a group of GOP governors and supported by the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, the legislation her campaign cited to justify her stance falls short in terms of meaningfully protecting Americans with preexisting medical conditions.
McSally has not in the past or present taken actions that back up her statement. We rate it False.
During her entire time in elected office (OK, this time she was appointed, not elected to the Senate), McSally has been blatantly lying about her support for protecting pre-existing condition coverage in health care with reckless disregard for the truth.
No wonder she has aligned herself with Donald Trump. Lyin’ birds of a feather to stick together.