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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman October 16, 2018

Democrats attack Rep. Mimi Walters on health care vote, insurance interest donations

It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans were attacking Democrats for supporting the Affordable Care Act. Now, it’s Democrats who are taking the offensive and attacking Republicans for their efforts to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

The latest target: Rep. Mimi Walters, a California Republican representing an Orange County district that backed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

A new TV attack ad by the House Majority PAC, a group aligned with Democrats, claims that "Walters took big bucks from insurance interests," with an image on screen saying Walters took $213,000 from the insurance industry.

The ad also claims that Walters supported a health care plan that "strips protections for people living with pre-existing conditions and slaps an age tax on older Californians," and that Walters voted with Trump 99 percent of the time.

We fact-checked whether Walters voted 99 percent of the time with Trump in a separate fact-check. Here, we’ll take on the claims about Walters’ ties to insurance interests, and her votes to strip protections for people with pre-existing conditions and whether she supported an "age tax."

What we found is that the ad is slightly misleading on the amount insurance donations Walters has received, and overstates what it describes as an "age tax."

Walters did not respond to a request for comment.

Walters, pre-existing conditions and an "age tax"

The pre-existing conditions and age tax portion of the ad is in reference to Walters’ 2017 vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, often shorthanded as Obamacare, and to replace it with the American Health Care Act. (The AHCA passed the House but ultimately failed in the Senate.)

Obamacare prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, a provision that had been threatened by Republican efforts to repeal the law.

Under Obamacare, if you don’t have health insurance through an employer or the government, you have guaranteed access to coverage in the individual market, regardless of your health status, and you can’t be billed higher rates for a pre-existing medical condition.

Under the GOP’s American Health Care Act, it would have kept the requirement that people with pre-existing conditions must be offered health insurance – but it would have dropped Obamacare’s rules capping how much extra those people could be charged.

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In short, insurers would have been required to offer everyone a plan, but insurers would have more control over how much they could charge. Experts say that would have effectively priced many people living with pre-existing conditions out of the insurance market.

When Republicans claimed that the AHCA would not threaten coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, we rated those claims Mostly False.

The ad also claims that Walters’ vote for the AHCA imposes an "age tax" on older Californians.

The bill would have allowed insurers to hike premiums for certain older enrollees from up to five times more than what they would charge younger adults. The current law, Obamacare, sets that cap at up to three times as much. The legislation also would have allowed states to set a different ratio.

The "age tax" also doesn’t apply to seniors on Medicare, or to people over the age of 50 with medical covered sponsored by large employers. It is important to note, though, that it would impact people in the 50-64 age range who weren’t covered by an employer as they are not yet eligible for Medicare.

The $200,000 from insurance interests

The ad claims that Mimi Walters took $213,000 from insurance interests, citing the Center for Responsive Politics, an authoritative database that tracks campaign finance.

In the report, the CRP found that Walters received $213,575 from the insurance industry from 2013 to 2018. In the 2017-18 election cycle, she has received $68,500.  

There's an important caveat to this number, however. While the ad is talking about health care, the Center for Responsive Politics says it groups donations from health, life, property and car insurance companies, agents and brokers in its totals. The ad may leave viewers with the wrong idea that all the donations were related to health care, or that somehow those donations influenced her vote. There is no evidence of that.

Our ruling

The House Majority PAC says that Mimi Walters received $213,000 from insurance interests in her campaign for Congress, and claims she supports a plan that strips health care for people with pre-existing conditions and imposes an age tax on senior Californians.

It is accurate that Walters supported legislation that would have likely resulted in less coverage for those with previous medical conditions and hiked premiums for older enrollees. Though calling the vote an "age tax" is misleading.

Walters did take in over $213,000 from the insurance industry. But that was over five years and includes donations from property and car insurers.

We rate this claim Half True.

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Says U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters "took $213,000 from insurance interests" and that she supported a plan that "strips protections for people with pre-existing conditions and slaps an age tax on older Californians."
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

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Democrats attack Rep. Mimi Walters on health care vote, insurance interest donations

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