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Four Days Until Election Day: Four Experts On How Sen. Tillis’ Protect Act Falls Short

Health Care Advocates Slammed Tillis Yesterday For His Comments Saying North Carolinians Speaking Out About Risk Of Losing Pre-Existing Condition Protections Are “Dumb” Or “Lying”

RALEIGH, NC — Following Senator Tillis’ offensive comments made yesterday on a local radio station, saying “anyone who is trying to scare voters into thinking that they’re going to be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition is lying. They’re either dumb or they’re lying,” North Carolinians who rely on the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing conditions protections spoke out

Three-time cancer survivor Bev Veals said: “Senator, we’re not dumb, and you are the one lying. Your PROTECT Act has more holes in it than a dartboard.” She’s right. 

With just four days until Election Day, we are highlighting four criticisms from experts on how Senator Tillis’ Protect Act falls short.

  1. Linda Blumberg, a fellow at the Urban Institute, said: The bill, sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), does nothing to provide subsidies or cost-sharing mechanisms — meaning people both with and without preexisting conditions wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford those plans. Without that framework, the act remains a “meaningless promise.” 
  2. Thomas Miller, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said: “No six-page bill is ever the way of achieving something…This is a check-the-box effort to try to say, ‘We’re [moving] in that direction.’”
  3. Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said: “the bill doesn’t prevent insurance companies from price gouging” and “is riddled with loopholes that would continue to permit discriminatory rating practices.”
  4. A group of 33 health advocacy organizations, said: “In short, for people with pre-existing conditions, the bill would provide access to coverage in name only.”

Clearly, Senator Tillis’ bill is more about “political cover” and “protecting Senate Republicans” than it is about protecting the 1.7 million North Carolinians living with a pre-existing condition. 

A fact check from the News & Observer yesterday points out “the Protect Act does not include language in the Affordable Care Act requiring coverage for certain health benefits, such as maternity, mental health, and substance abuse care.” Tillis’ bill allows health insurers to exclude a number of critical health care benefits, reverses current protections that prevent insurance companies from placing limits on the annual and lifetime benefits they will pay, and could lead to higher premiums and health care costs for women and older Americans. 

If he truly cared about preserving these protections, he wouldn’t have voted to partially or fully repeal the Affordable Care Act 15 times. He wouldn’t be standing behind a lawsuit that the Supreme Court is set to take up in a matter of days that would invalidate the Affordable Care Act in full, including pre-existing condition protections. And he wouldn’t have fast-tracked a nominee that has signaled support for the full invalidation of the ACA

“The Protect Act is just another attempt by Senator Tillis to rewrite his toxic record of taking away pre-existing conditions protections and denying coverage that has made hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians more vulnerable during this pandemic,” said Kate Frauenfelder, a spokeswoman for Cal Cunningham’s campaign. “His contrived political sham of a bill will not fool North Carolinians who know that when given chance after chance, he has failed to fight for them and their families.” 

Cal Cunningham understands that the Affordable Care Act has saved lives and improved health outcomes, especially for the millions who rely on its pre-existing conditions protections. In the Senate, he will defend and build off the ACA to improve access and bring down the cost of health care for families.