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RALEIGH, NC — North Carolinians are speaking out today and calling on Senator Thom Tillis to apologize for offensive comments he made on a local radio station in which he said “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 are rightfully fearful and calling out Tillis for his own lies as the Supreme Court is set to take up a Tillis-supported lawsuit in a matter of days that would invalidate the Affordable Care Act in full, including pre-existing condition protections.
Tillis himself has voted to repeal the ACA fully or partially 15 times, supports a lawsuit to repeal the ACA in full, and spent last week rushing through a Supreme Court Justice who has signaled support for full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act. A News & Observer fact check today said it best: “Did Tillis vote against coverage for preexisting conditions? Yes.”
North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions, who are scared of losing protections, are speaking out about Tillis’ offensive comments and his record of trying to take away health care protections for millions of North Carolinians.
Bev Veals, a three-time cancer survivor from Carolina Beach, said today: “Senator, we’re not dumb, and you are the one lying. Your PROTECT Act has more holes in it than a dartboard. As a three-time cancer survivor, the Affordable Care Act restored my dignity in fighting for my life. Without the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions, I could be denied coverage. For years, you have ignored the needs of your constituents and relentlessly attacked our health care. That’s why in just 5 days, we’ll elect Cal Cunningham, who will fight to expand access to quality, affordable care.”
Susie Evans, a Weddington mother of two young daughters with pre-existing conditions, said: “My daughters are two of the 1.7 million North Carolinians living with pre-existing conditions today. Make no mistake Senator, the life-saving protections that keep them from being denied coverage are very much at stake. I don’t expect much from a Senator who has spent his entire career robbing North Carolinians of their health care, but for Senator Tillis to attempt to minimize the fear felt by families like mine and name call is a new low.”
Stacy Staggs, a Charlotte-area resident and mom to twin daughters with complex medical needs, said: “Senator Tillis, you are the liar here. I have read your falsely named “Protect Act” and it’s riddled with loopholes that protect insurance corporations rather than patients with pre-existing conditions. Without protections against lifetime coverage limits, your bill is nothing more than a desperate effort to “check the box.” As a concerned parent of twin girls with complex medical needs and disabilities, I know their lives have been saved by the Affordable Care Act. I have been following your campaign of disinformation with extreme interest. Emma and Sara’s lives are what’s at stake in this election. As a witness in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, I told my family’s story — but you, Senator Tillis, left the room, once again ignoring the people you are obligated to serve. Your comments today confirm what North Carolina voters already know: Senator Thom Tillis has never represented us and it’s time to vote you out.”
Tillis’ offensive comments today echo similar comments made by his office in recent weeks, revealing a larger culture of callousness in the Senator’s office. In September, WRAL reported on a call Veals made to Tillis’s office seeking health care help and being coldly dismissed by a Tillis staffer who compared health coverage to a dress shirt and told Veals: “Yeah, just like if I want to go to the store and buy a new dress shirt, if I can’t afford that dress shirt, I don’t get to get it.” When the constituent then followed up to ask what other options were available to her, the Tillis staffer then replied: “Sounds like something you’re going to have to figure out.”
“The only thing more offensive than Senator Tillis’ comments today is his own long record of trying to take health care away from North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions.” said Kate Frauenfelder, a spokeswoman for Cal Cunningham’s campaign. “Today’s comments by Senator Tillis reflect the coldness with which he has treated North Carolinians worried about losing their health care in the middle of a pandemic and North Carolinians deserve better. That’s why voters are ready to send Cal Cunningham to Washington and elect a leader who will fight to keep their health care protections in place.”
At a Senate debate last month, Tillis couldn’t offer a single plan to provide health care to North Carolinians. Tillis has since tried to push through a sham health care bill in an attempt to rewrite his record of denying North Carolinians care. But 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.
As the News & Observer wrote today about Tillis’ bill: “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.”
Meanwhile, Cal Cunningham will protect North Carolinians’ health care and is fighting to strengthen and extend coverage under the Affordable Care Act, expand Medicaid in North Carolina, create a public health insurance option, support rural hospitals, address doctor shortages, support life-saving research to prevent and treat diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS, and ensure no one loses their employer-sponsored coverage who wants to keep it.