Opinion

Iowans are hurting and want action from Sen. Joni Ernst on health care

Sen. Joni Ernst speaks during a fundraiser hosted by the Iowa GOP at the Hughes Family Barn in southwest Cedar Rapids on
Sen. Joni Ernst speaks during a fundraiser hosted by the Iowa GOP at the Hughes Family Barn in southwest Cedar Rapids on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Iowans take the caucuses seriously, and rightfully so. But with the caucuses over, and the candidates, the press corps and the field organizers who flood our state every four years moving on to New Hampshire and South Carolina, we shouldn’t lose focus on issues that affect us at home. As a health care advocate — and an Iowan with severe chronic pain (a walking pre-existing condition) — I hope that we can have a conversation about health care. The fact of the matter is, our care is still under attack, in Washington and in the courts. Iowans with pre-existing conditions are worried about losing their health coverage. And the cost of prescription drugs is skyrocketing.

Iowans have looked to Senator Joni Ernst to fight for them, but every time she has had the opportunity to stand up for Iowans with health care concerns, Senator Ernst has let us down. She’s voted to limit our access to health care time and time again. She voted against pre-existing condition protections and for allowing insurance companies to charge people over 50 five times more for health coverage. She voted in favor of the legislation that led to the lawsuit to tear down the Affordable Care Act.

Those actions directly hurt Iowans that we have spoken to. For months, we’ve heard from Iowans like Jen in Des Moines who is concerned for her son with autism. Kevin in Cedar Rapids has Crohn’s disease, and he’s worried about being able to access and afford the care he needs. Vicki in Independence has glaucoma and is taking a very expensive medication that she’s been forced to ration. One in three of us have a pre-existing condition, and we shouldn’t be forced to pay more for our care, or worst, denied care completely.

Between her opposition to Medicare negotiation and support for the age tax, it’s clear that Senator Joni Ernst’s priorities aren’t with every day Iowans. We need Senator Ernst to stop supporting increases in health care costs, especially on older Iowans, and protect people with pre-existing conditions. Iowa will return to normal after all the pomp and press depart for the next nominating contest, but for a lot of us, our worries and concerns about health care will still need addressing after the caucuses.

Emily Holley is the the executive director of Iowa Voices and a long-time health care advocate with severe chronic pain.

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