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Let them eat junk insurance by @BloggersRUs

Let them eat junk insurance

by Tom Sullivan

John Tester timed his last campaign ad to help him close the deal with Montana voters who sent the Democrat to the U.S. Senate twice already. Tester's ad speaks to voters' health care concerns and reinforces his authenticity against an opponent hailing from Maryland.

Republican Matt Rosendale has already lost points after disclosure he is a "rancher" with no cattle. He has dropped that affectation and now runs as a "Trump conservative" instead. Republicans hope nationalizing the race will help them defeat red-state Democrats like Tester.

Leaning on a ranch-sized meat grinder, Tester says:

I was nine years old when I lost my fingers in this meat grinder. My parents paid for the hospital because our healthcare didn’t cover anything. It was junk insurance. Thank god Montana got rid of junk healthcare plans a long time ago — until our insurance commissioner, Matt Rosendale, let them back in. My opponent is also pushing to allow insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Tester's ad also reaches voters as the six-week enrollment period for 2019 coverage under the Affordable Care Act opens November 1 — another reminder that health care is on the ballot days from now. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared he would try again to repeal the Affordable Care Act if has has the votes to do it after the election.

Preserving protection for pre-existing conditions is voters' most important concern in this election. So, Republican candidates are speaking like born-again believers in the Affordable Care Act even as they await a decision in a Texas lawsuit (joined by multiple conservative states) to have it declared unconstitutional.

Plus, having scrapped the individual mandate designed to keep costs down, the Trump administration is launching new efforts at undermining the act as it stands, including scheduling server downtime during the enrollment period and allowing sale of the kind of "junk insurance" Tester opposes, Politico reports:

The Trump administration is trying to take credit for the improving insurance marketplaces at the very same time that it’s chipping away at the law’s underpinnings. Those measures are expected to disproportionately hurt poor and vulnerable patients who have benefited most from the Affordable Care Act. Many of the changes, such as the wider availability of skimpier non-Obamacare plans, will take time to unfold. The impact won’t be apparent this week when sign-ups start just days before midterm elections defined in part by backlash to the GOP’s unpopular Obamacare repeal efforts.

[...]

Still, the law remains under attack from Republicans who still vow to repeal it and the Trump administration, which is asking federal courts to overturn protections for pre-existing conditions and issuing regulations promoting coverage alternatives. The Trump administration says it wants to create more affordable insurance options outside of Obamacare for millions of middle-class Americans who’ve been priced out of the law’s marketplaces. Those steps will likely appeal to healthier patients attracted to cheaper, less robust health plans, which could cause sicker patients left behind in the Obamacare marketplaces to face spiraling costs.

Like other red-state Democrats, Tester is campaigning against GOP efforts to weaken protections for pre-existing conditions. In Montana, he has the states acceptance of Medicaid expansion backing him up.

With his missing fingers, flat-top haircut and collection of ugly ties, Tester is in a tightening race that will test whether "a state-specific, parochial campaign still works against a national GOP message," writes Politico's Burgess Everett. Tester, who voted against the last Supreme Court nominee, has the sitting president, the Club for Growth, the Chamber of Commerce, Senate leaders, and the NRA gunning for him. Still, he welcomes the late money spent against him as “economic development. Bring it in.”

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