Misleading Claims at “Set the Record Straight” Press Conference

Yesterday NDGOP candidates and officials attempted to “set the record straight” on their actions regarding health care. The attempt took place at a press conference in Bismarck. Reading the reports from journalists in attendance, there were quite a few misleading claims made by Kevin Cramer, Kelly Armstrong, Wayne Stenehjem, and Jon Godfread. In other words, they weren’t exactly shooting “straight” in their statements.

Congressman Kevin Cramer has voted to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act over sixty times since taking office. In 2015, he bragged about voting to repeal the law in its entirety. Repealing the law in its entirety would eliminate the protections of people with pre-existing conditions. To now try and claim otherwise at a press conference is election year spin at its worse. Cramer has also claimed Graham-Cassidy, a replacement plan, would protect people with pre-existing conditions. That’s not accurate. While it technically didn’t gut the entire thing, consumers could be charged more for care or completely priced out of the insurance market because of pre-existing conditions. Directors of Medicaid across the nation also raised flags about the proposal’s shortfalls. 

Insurance Commissioner Jon Godread claimed Medicaid Expansion, “won’t be impacted by any changes with the federal side.” North Dakota law seems to suggest otherwise. Medicaid Expansion “may be reduced or eliminated if federal participation is reduced or eliminated.” The Stenehjem lawsuit Godfread supports would eliminate the federal portion of Medicaid Expansion. Does Godfread believe the North Dakota legislature would come together to fully fund the program on its own? Governor Burgum contemplated eliminating the program altogether when he was elected but was convince otherwise. Congressional Candidate Kelly Armstrong voted against Medicaid Expansion. Of course, there would be an impact to Medicaid Expansion in North Dakota.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem continues to keep North Dakotans in the dark on who “asked” him to join this lawsuit. One way or another, the answer will come out. Since he works for us, he should have to answer the public’s questions. It is work done in our name.

Armstrong, Godfread, and Cramer point to premiums rising. They have, just as they were before ACA. They continuously neglect to mention part of the premium increases as of late have been a direct result of their own actions. Take it from Sanford Health who cites the removal of the individual mandate in the tax reform and chaotic markets for their upcoming premium increases. The elimination of CRS payments from the Trump administration has also forced insurance companies out of the market place.

To top it off, Cramer accuses Democrats of using health care as, “a theme to try and ride into this election cycle.” Apparently, he delivered that line without a hint of irony nor a level of self-awareness. Recall, he voted over 60 times to repeal the law. When asked about it, he claimed those were “symbolic” meaning for political motives. Now, after years of running on health care, they control the federal government and they don’t want you to talk about health care because it isn’t politically advantageous for them. The bottom line is, the issue is important, their actions will have an impact, and the discussion needs to go on.

Tyler Axness
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