GOP Senate Candidate Says He Supports Coverage For Preexisting Conditions — Even As He Sues to End It

Josh Hawley is trying to destroy one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions, even while claiming he supports it.

Josh Hawley for Senate website

On Monday, Missouri Attorney General and GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley told reporters during a campaign stop at a glass plant in Kansas City that, while he opposes the Affordable Care Act, he wants to keep one of its most popular provisions: the provision that insurance companies must issue coverage to anyone regardless of their health.

"I think we ought to require insurance companies to cover folks with pre-existing conditions," Hawley said. "I think we ought to — you mandate it. You say, you have to cover them with pre-existing conditions."

There's just one problem: he is currently part of a lawsuit to eliminate that very provision.

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Hawley is a party to Texas v. United States, a suit brought by 20 GOP-controlled states which alleges that essentially the entire individual-market provisions of President Barack Obama's signature health care law — including guaranteed issue to those with pre-existing conditions — are invalid, because the individual mandate has been cut to zero by the Republican tax scam bill.

Most legal experts, on the left and the right, believe the lawsuit makes no sense. But given the case is set to be heard by a judge who has ruled against the ACA before, and could potentially be appealed to judges appointed by President Donald Trump, who has taken the extraordinary step of siding with the suit against his own government, there is no guarantee it will lose — and a victory for Hawley and his fellow Republican attorneys general would put 52 million Americans' coverage at risk.

Hawley made no effort to reconcile his claim to support pre-existing condition coverage with his involvement in a lawsuit to obliterate it. Nor did he explain what sort of "mandate" he is advocating for.

Hawley's opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, was one of the original votes for the ACA, and for the protection of pre-existing conditions. She has furiously condemned the lawsuit, and Hawley's involvement in it, co-sponsoring a Senate resolution to oppose it.

A seismic shift in public opinion on the ACA has taken place over the last two years. Voters who once feared and distrusted the most significant health care reform in decades now broadly support the law, and Republicans who spent their careers running on killing it suddenly find their old mantra toxic on the campaign trail.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.