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During a debate in the 2nd Congressional District in North Carolina, Republican Rep. George Holding made his stance on coverage for pre-existing health conditions clear when the topic of health care came up.
"I support protecting folks who have pre-existing conditions," Holding said, according to The News and Observer. "I don’t know of any policymaker in Washington that wants to prevent people with pre-existing conditions from being able to get health care."
His Democratic challenger, Linda Coleman, thinks otherwise. Coleman named a person with a pre-existing condition and said "George Holding has voted 13 times to deny Kevin, and the 300,000 people like him in the 2nd congressional district, coverage."
In an ad from Coleman’s campaign, Kevin LeCount – a friend of Coleman’s who had leukemia, according to her campaign – says, "there are more than 300,000 people in this district, whose lives (Holding) put in danger when (Holding) voted to cut protections for people with pre-existing conditions."
The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, bans insurers from denying anyone coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It was legal to do so before.
What has Holding voted for?
There have been numerous attempts in Congress to fully or partially repeal Obamacare. They had voted 54 times through 2014 to repeal parts of the health care legislation or the whole thing, according to the Washington Post.
Not all of the legislation Congress has voted on would have denied protection for people with pre-existing conditions. But some of them did, and Holding voted for some of these bills that range from budget bills defunding Obamacare to full-on repeals that would have fully eliminated protections.
Date of Holding Vote:
H. Con. Res 25
H. Con. Res. 96
H. Con. Res. 27
S. Con. Res. 11
We found that Holding has voted 14 different times for bills that affect pre-existing conditions in some way. Of these bills, four were budget bills that would have defunded Obamacare.
Only the budget bills from 2015 and 2016 mentioned protections for pre-existing conditions by saying the protections should be included in any future health care reform. Since these bills didn’t provide a clear path to offering protections, people with pre-existing conditions could have been vulnerable until other health care legislation passed.
Two budget bills from 2013 and 2014 were full repeals of Obamacare, and did not promise protections for pre-existing conditions. Any full repeal of Obamacare would also fully repeal these protections.
It is important to note that budget bills are not binding on policy, so it does not mean a vote for these will automatically repeal or defund Obamacare
One bill would have prevented the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing any of the tax mandates necessary for funding Obamacare.
.Holding also voted in favor of a reconciliation bill, which is a budget bill that does not allow for filibusters in the Senate. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit with a focus on health policies, notes that this bill does not allow insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, said in an email that this reconciliation bill would not have fully repealed Obamacare or protection for those with pre-existing conditions. That doesn’t mean things would’ve stayed the same.
"[The repeal] would have made it much harder for people with lower incomes to afford coverage for pre-existing conditions," Jost said.
All of these votes came while President Barack Obama was in office, and Congress had no chance at successfully repealing Obama’s signature health legislation. The Republicans were well aware of that. Their repeal attempts were used to show they could organize as a party, and could get the job done if there was a Republican president.
The game changed when President Donald Trump was elected. The Republican-controlled Congress pushed out its first health care bill. It would’ve fully repealed Obamacare and replaced it with the American Health Care Act. On May 4, 2017, Holding voted for this bill.
During the debate, Holding cited his votes for the AHCA to prove he supported protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
"I really do want to put this pre-existing conditions argument to rest. I voted to repeal Obamacare as many times as I was given an opportunity to vote for repealing Obamacare," Holding said. "... Obamacare didn’t work. The American Health Care Act would work, and it protects and gives coverage to people with pre-existing conditions."
A previous fact check found that the AHCA says insurers wouldn’t have been able to limit access to health care for those with pre-existing conditions. It would’ve cut back on protections, however, by allowing for insurers to raise premiums based on an individual’s health status.
Holding voted numerous times on bills that affect the Affordable Care Act in some way. We found eight bills would have either affected protections for pre-existing conditions, or fully removed them. None of the budget bills Holding voted for were binding either, meaning they wouldn’t have necessarily defunded or repealed Obamacare. Holding voted on two budget bills that promised protections in future health care reform, but they offered no replacement. When he did vote for a replacement, the AHCA, it would have allowed insurers to raise premiums for people based on their pre-existing conditions.
We rate this claim Mostly True.
This story was produced by the North Carolina Fact-Checking Project, a partnership of McClatchy Carolinas, the Duke University Reporters’ Lab and PolitiFact. The NC Local News Lab Fund and the International Center for Journalists provide support for the project, which shares fact-checks with newsrooms statewide.
News and Observer, "Face to face, NC Congressional candidates lack the sharpness of campaign ads," Oct. 22, 2018
Facebook page, "Vote Linda Coleman for Congress"
Washington Post, "The House has voted 54 times in four years on Obamacare. Here's the full list," March 21. 2014
H.R. 2009, "Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013," Aug. 2, 2013
H.R. 596, "To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and for other purposes," Feb. 2, 2013
S. Con. Res. 11, "An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025," April 30, 2015
CNN, "House sends Obamacare repeal bill to White House," Jan. 1, 2016
Kaiser Family Foundation, "Summary of Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015," July 2017
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