In its Political Notebook, the Daily Star reports that fact-check website labels McSally healthcare claim ‘false’.
In a new TV spot for her reelection campaign, Sen. Martha McSally says, “Of course I will always protect those with preexisting conditions. Always.”
But one prominent fact-checking organization doesn’t think her record supports the claim.
PolitiFact.com, the nonprofit fact-checking site operated by the Poynter Institute, recently rated McSally’s June 22 ad as “false,” the second-worst rating on its Truth-O-Meter.
“Nothing in her voting record, which tracks closely with the Republican repeal-and-replace philosophy, supports this claim,” writes PolitiFact correspondent Shefali Luthra. “Meanwhile, the legislation her campaign cited to justify her stance falls short in terms of meaningfully protecting Americans with preexisting medical conditions.”
This marked the seventh time PolitiFact has scrutinized one of McSally’s statements, and her record so far from the group is two rates of “false,” four of “mostly false” and one of “half true.”
The site has yet to train its gaze on McSally’s Democratic challenger, Mark Kelly, since he entered the race, but three previous checks of statements he made as a gun-control advocate in 2015 and 2013 earned him a “half true” and two ratings of “true.”
The longer version
At politifact.com, Shefali Luthra reports that Arizona Sen. McSally makes health care pledge that contradicts past votes, policy positions. “Of course I will always protect those with preexisting conditions. Always,” the Republican said in a TV ad released June 22. Nothing could be farther from the truth. So …
Trailing Democratic challenger Mark Kelly in one of the country’s most hotly contested Senate races, Arizona Sen. Martha McSally is seeking to tie herself to an issue with across-the-aisle appeal: insurance protections for people with preexisting health conditions.
“Of course I will always protect those with preexisting conditions. Always,” the Republican said in a TV ad released June 22.
The ad comes in response to criticisms by Kelly, who has highlighted McSally’s votes to undo the Affordable Care Act. That, he argued, would leave Americans with medical conditions vulnerable to higher-priced insurance.
The Arizona Senate race has attracted national attention and is considered a toss-up, though Kelly is leading in many polls. McSally’s attempt to present herself as a supporter of protecting people with preexisting conditions — a major component of the 2010 health law — is part of a larger pattern in which vulnerable Republican incumbents stake out positions advocating for this protection while also maintaining the GOP’s strong stance against the ACA.
McSally, who was appointed by the governor to take over John McCain’s Senate seat in 2019, used similar messaging in her failed 2018 bid for the state’s other Senate position. And President Donald Trump echoed the declaration at a June 23 rally in Phoenix, saying McSally — along with the rest of the Republican Party — “will always protect people with preexisting conditions.”
With that in mind, we decided to take a closer look. We contacted McSally’s campaign, which cited her support of a different piece of legislation, the Protect Act. But independent experts told us that legislation doesn’t satisfy the standard she sets out.
Past and present
Only one national law makes sure people with preexisting medical conditions don’t face discrimination or higher prices from insurers. It’s the Affordable Care Act.
Both as a member of the House of Representatives and as a senator, McSally has supported efforts to undo the health law — voting in 2015 to repeal it and in 2017 to replace it with the Republican-backed American Health Care Act, which would have permitted insurers to charge higher premiums for people with complicated medical histories.
“Anyone who voted for that bill was voting to take away the ACA’s preexisting condition protections,” said Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “Sen. McSally is trying to erase history for electoral purposes.”
Especially as COVID–19 cases climb, health care— and, in particular, the ACA — has emerged as a flashpoint in the Arizona election, said Dr. Daniel Derksen, a professor of public health, medicine and nursing at the University of Arizona.
“Martha McSally has in her actions, in her votes, been pretty consistent about cutting back benefits and trying to repeal the ACA without any clear plan in mind that would protect people who gained insurance through the ACA,” Derksen added. “Her words on preexisting condition protections don’t align with any votes I’ve seen.”