Government

National union launches late ad against Blum

Pipe fitters union attacks him over health care votes

U.S. Rep. Rod Blum answers a question during his town hall May 9, 2017, at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. The Republican was criticized at a series of town halls he held in the district over his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Rod Blum answers a question during his town hall May 9, 2017, at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. The Republican was criticized at a series of town halls he held in the district over his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — With just a week to Election Day, a national labor union is launching a $225,000 ad campaign asserting U.S. Rep. Rod Blum voted 10 times to strip away health insurance protections for pre-existing conditions.

The ad campaign by the United Association of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Service Techs will begin running today on cable and broadcast television in the Cedar Rapids market where Blum, a two-term Dubuque Republican, is being challenged by Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer, also of Dubuque. Her father, a pipe fitter welder, was a member of the union, the organization said.

The ad shows images of a newborn child in a neonatal intensive care unit as a narrator talks about Blum voting 10 times “to gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Labor unions have made securing and protecting health benefits a priority because “families should not have to choose between health care or going bankrupt when they get sick,” association President Mark McManus said.

The ad concludes with the message, “But you don’t have to vote 10 times to send a message to Rod Blum. Just once … on Election Day.”

Blum has defended his health care votes, including to repeal the Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — by saying the Republican House plan was “better than what we have.”

Ultimately, neither the House or Senate plans to repeal Obamacare became law.

Blum supported legislation to stabilize the health care market, including lower premiums and protecting the sick by setting aside $120 billion to assist people with pre-existing conditions.

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His staff also pointed to a Fact Checker in The Gazette that gave a D grade to a claim by Keep Iowa Healthy that the Obamacare “repeal Blum supported would have ended affordable coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”

The Gazette Fact Checker team concluded that “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.”

Also, in September, Blum joined other House Republicans in sponsoring the Maintaining Protections for Patients with Pre-existing conditions Act. It would duplicate statutes for pre-existing conditions in federal law by amending the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act so protections for patients with pre-existing conditions remain if Obamacare is struck down in the courts.

Independent sources, however, that reviewed the proposals said they would deny protections for those with pre-existing conditions like asthma, cancer and diabetes.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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