ELECTION 2020

Finkenauer, Hinson spar over health care plans in Iowa 1st District race

U.S. Rep, Abby Finkenauer, a Democrat running for reelection in Iowa's 1st Congressional District, makes a stop Wednesda
U.S. Rep, Abby Finkenauer, a Democrat running for reelection in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, makes a stop Wednesday in a Biden-Harris bus outside the IBEW Local 405 in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Of course she wants everyone to have access to health care, state Rep. Ashley Hinson said Wednesday when asked about that ad her opponent is running.

It’s the campaign ad with a snippet of a sentence of the Marion Republican saying, “I don’t think every American wants health insurance.”

“Of course I believe in access to health care. It’s important for everyone, everybody needs health care,” Hinson told supporters during a discussion Wednesday.

Her comment about not everyone wanting health insurance comes from an Iowa Public Radio interview. It’s now being used in ads by U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, of Cedar Rapids, the Democratic incumbent in Iowa’s 1st District that includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown.

Her difference with Finkenauer, who headlined an event for Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday afternoon at a Cedar Rapids union hall, isn’t over access to health care, Hinson said — but whether people get to choose whether and what type of health insurance they carry.

“I think access to health care is very important,” Hinson had answered on Iowa Public Radio’s “River to River” program. “Insurance is a different thing. I don’t think every American wants health insurance, and I don’t think that’s something the government has to provide to every American.”

Finkenauer, she said, has voiced support for Medicare-for-All and a public option for the existing health care law.

“That’s clearly not the answer,” Hinson said during the roundtable.

Finkenauer’s campaign doubled down on its criticism.

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“There Rep. Hinson goes again, suggesting she wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act while parroting health insurance industry talking points — and not even doing it accurately,” said Finkenauer campaign spokeswoman McKenzie Wilson. “Congresswoman Finkenauer is a champion for affordable health care and rural hospitals and has the record to prove it.”

According to the campaign, Finkenauer doesn’t support Medicare-for-All. She does support improving the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option allowing people to buy into Medicare. It would not be required and, if they want, people would be able to keep employer-based health insurance.

That would provide competition to private insurance and drive down premium costs, she said.

Finkenauer later Wednesday was vouching for Biden at a “Soul of the Nation” early vote bus stop at IBEW 405 in southwest Cedar Rapids.

“It truly is about the soul of our nation,” she said about next week’s election. “It’s about stepping up for our neighbors, being there for each other.”

Biden, she said, can bring the nation together to get things done, like around an infrastructure plan that would put people to work and include labor provisions wanted by unions.

Biden, she said, would work with a Democratic Congress to enact the House-passed prescription drug bill letting Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to reduce prices.

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

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