October 14, 2020/Media, War Room

ICYMI: Cornyn Gets “Four Pinocchios” for Preexisting Condition Lie

Austin, Texas — Vulnerable incumbent Senator John Cornyn’s recent ad on preexisting conditions is a “whopper” of a lie according to the fact checkers at the Washington Post.

Cornyn, who was the “top salesman” for repealing the Affordable Care Act, is now running an ad claiming he supports one of the main provisions of the law he voted 20 times to dismantle. Needless to say, that claim did not hold up under scrutiny:

In Case You Missed It

Another clunker: John Cornyn’s ad on preexisting conditions

Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post

  • Three years ago, Cornyn was the “chief salesman” of the Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act.
  • But Cornyn continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act, and his campaign would not say whether he backs a Republican lawsuit seeking to strike down the entire law at the Supreme Court.
  • If the ACA were to fall, the legislation Cornyn proposes as a replacement to cover those with preexisting conditions says “nothing … shall be construed to restrict the amount that an employer or individual may be charged for coverage under a group health plan.” Charge them whatever price, it says.
  • Experts say this arrangement would leave tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions at risk and possibly facing unaffordable rates for insurance. That’s why we’ve previously described the GOP proposal Cornyn supports as a “car without an engine.”
  • The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation, has long been a target for Republicans. Cornyn has voted numerous times to repeal or replace it since its enactment in 2010. This is the third presidential election cycle in which the fate of the law is a top issue for candidates and voters.
  • Efforts to repeal “Obamacare” in Congress have fallen short for lack of agreement among Republicans on how best to rewrite it, most notably in 2017 and 2018, when the GOP controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. The Supreme Court has upheld the act twice in the face of challenges from conservative groups and is scheduled to hear arguments in the latest case (California v. Texas) on Nov. 10.
  • As coronavirus cases reached a new high in the United States, the Trump administration filed a legal brief on June 25 asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law, joining with a group of GOP state attorneys general who argue the ACA is unconstitutional. About 20 million people could lose their health insurance amid a pandemic if the GOP effort succeeds.
  • The lawsuit comes from Cornyn’s home state, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). The federal judge who initially ruled to strike down the law in this case is a former Cornyn aide sitting in Texas.
  • “Asked if he wanted to see the lawsuit succeed, Cornyn did not say,” according to an article last month in the Texas Tribune. We asked the Cornyn campaign the same question and did not get an answer.
  • Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) last month forced a vote on a bill that would have prevented the Justice Department from arguing to strike down the ACA in court. Cornyn voted against it, while some Republicans facing dicey reelection prospects voted in favor.
  • Polls show most Americans support guaranteeing coverage for preexisting conditions. An estimated 102 million people in the United States have one, according to a 2018 report by the consulting group Avalere. On Jan. 5, 2017, days before the end of the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services said 61 million to 133 million non-elderly people have a preexisting condition. That means one-quarter to half the population under 55.
  • Cornyn recently tweeted, “The left, including Joe Biden in Tuesday’s debate, overstates the problem of preexisting conditions to justify political control of health care.” He linked to a Wall Street Journal editorial (“Pre-Existing Condition Fiction”), which said “a mere 2.7% of an estimated roughly 130 million people with preexisting conditions gained access to health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.”
  • Various Republican proposals now in Congress would continue to mandate that insurance companies sell plans to anyone. But experts say they fall short in terms of controlling prices and effectively would let insurers curtail benefits or charge exorbitant rates to sicker patients.
  • The Cornyn campaign website says the third-term senator “supports a plan that protects those with preexisting conditions” but doesn’t mention any legislation that would accomplish this.
  • Cornyn has been silent on the lawsuit, but his Senate record speaks for itself: numerous votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act or replace it with weaker tea; a pair of proposals that could saddle sick patients with higher, and possibly prohibitive, costs; and voting against a measure just last month that would have barred the Justice Department from arguing to strike down the entire health-care law in court.
  • Cornyn earns Four Pinocchios.

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