Fact Check

Fact Checker: Coalition takes on Rod Blum over health care

U.S. Rep. Rod Blum (right) talks with Paul Smith, Chief of Staff, as they walk down the steps of the U.S. House of Representatives after three votes in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Rod Blum (right) talks with Paul Smith, Chief of Staff, as they walk down the steps of the U.S. House of Representatives after three votes in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Introduction

“Imagine businesses could charge people 50 and over five times more than other people … Rod Blum voted for the health care repeal bill that does exactly that. AARP says it creates an age tax on allowing insurance to charge people 50 and over five times more. And it ends affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

Source of claim

Keep Iowa Healthy, a coalition of local groups fighting repeal of the Affordable Care Act. They include the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, Iowa Citizen Action Network, Iowa State Education Association, Progress Iowa and Iowa Main Street Alliance.

First claim

Analysis: The 30-second ad centers on Rep. Rod Blum’s vote in May for HR 1628, a bill to repeal the health law known as Obamacare.

Under that GOP bill, there is no age tax but the Congressional Budget Office said it would allow insurers to charge older people with individual health plans five times more than younger people. Supporters argued that is needed since older people tend to require more costly care. The existing act already allows insurance companies to charge older people more, but it’s capped at three times more instead of five.

Conclusion: It’s true the repeal could have resulted in older Americans being charged five times more for health insurance than younger people. But the claim is incomplete and incorrectly calls that a tax, which is why the statement earns a B.

Second claim

Analysis: The ad claims the repeal Blum supported would have ended affordable coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

The Republican bill, like Obamacare, required insurers to provide coverage “to any applicant.” Moreover, the bill said premiums could not be based on enrollees’ health status and coverage couldn’t be limited because of existing medical conditions.

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That said, under narrow circumstances, people with existing conditions could have seen an increase in premiums under HR 1628. That is thanks to an amendment introduced by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-New Jersey, that gave states permission to apply for a federal waiver that would allow insurers to charge more to those with existing conditions who have a gap in insurance coverage.

According to FactCheck.org, insurers under this scenario, operating in a state granted such a waiver, could charge those who meet this criteria more for one year. But after that, their rate would go back down as long as they maintained coverage.

Conclusion: While the GOP bill would open the door for higher premiums for those with existing conditions, it is far from ending that affordable coverage provision. That’s why this claim earns a D.

Criteria

The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate/office holder or a national candidate/office holder about Iowa, or in advertisements that appear in our market. Claims must be independently verifiable. We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.

If you spot a claim you think needs checking, email us at factchecker@thegazette.com.

This Fact Checker was researched and written by KCRG-TV9’s Josh Scheinblum.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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