Government

Defending Obamacare, Iowa Democrats attack Ernst

Sen. Joni Ernst meets with community leaders in Feburary at Coralville City Hall. Iowa Democrats used a Wednesday deadli
Sen. Joni Ernst meets with community leaders in Feburary at Coralville City Hall. Iowa Democrats used a Wednesday deadline on lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act to attack Ernst’s failure to support Obamacare. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Iowa Democrats marked Wednesday’s procedural deadline in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act by attacking Sen. Joni Ernst, who is up for re-election this year.

Ernst has supported a number of attempts to repeal the ACA — or “Obamacare” — and recently declined to take a position on the lawsuit brought by Texas and other states.

“I’m not saying whether I support it or not. It’s in the hands of the Supreme Court now, so we’ll see,” she told The Hill news website.

Iowa Democratic Party spokesman Jeremy Busch called that more proof that Ernst will “stop at nothing to ensure health coverage is unaffordable and inaccessible for hundreds of thousands of Iowans.”

Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller, who has joined attorneys general from 19 other states in briefs opposing the ACA challenge, said overturning Obamacare would be a “catastrophe” for the 12 million Americans who would lose health care insurance through Medicaid expansion and the 9 million individuals who have insurance through the marketplaces or exchanges.

“And most Americans would potentially be subject to the pre-existing condition exclusion that over time was like a cancer eating away at the health care system,” he said on a call hosted by Progress Iowa.

The real catastrophe is Democrats’ support for government-run health care “that would cost trillions and cause massive disruptions to private plans, resulting in monumental tax hikes and higher premiums,” said Aaron Britt of the Republican Party of Iowa.

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Also on the Progress Iowa call, Debbie Koopman of Cedar Rapids talked about her daughter, Kelsi, who was born with a heart deformity that required surgery. Kelsi relied on the ACA to cover a second heart surgery she needed when she was 24.

“Without that ACA, how could she have afforded a catastrophic surgery? There’s no way,” Koopman said.

“I’m just floored that here in America, in Iowa, we would have a senator who would not stand up for all Iowans,” Koopman said.

Ernst’s position has been that “what we would like to see is more health care opportunities out there.”

She’s supporting a legislative alternative to the ACA, Ernst said, and “will always fight to protect those with preexisting conditions.”

Minden physician Glenn Hurst called it “offensive to not have our rural-based representative, Joni Ernst, not standing up for our rural population.”

Without the access the ACA provides, he said, “we lose people from rural Iowa.”

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

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