A new ad from a national political committee hoping to pick up Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District seat for Republicans this November attacked Democratic contender Rita Hart for her support of a health care bill Iowa Republicans overwhelmingly supported, while the campaign for Hart’s Republican opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, shrank from answering questions about her stance on the measure.
The National Republican Congressional Committee’s commercial correctly names Hart as one of the four Democrats in 2018 to vote to allow the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to partner with Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield to provide “insurance-like” health care coverage for members, according to reporting by the Gazette. Through its low premiums, the plan’s sponsors hoped it would provide access to health insurance coverage for farmers who, as Hart told the Gazette, had told her existing plans were too expensive.
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As the NRCC’s commercial points out, the plans created by the bill, Senate File 2349, lacked protections for applicants with pre-existing conditions, which was a chief concern for many of Iowa’s Democratic lawmakers at the time. While the 11 senators who opposed the bill were all Democrats, Hart was one of nine Democrats who crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans in support for the measure — a vote that put her in line with Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, the 69 Republicans who voted for the bill in the 100-seat Iowa House of Representatives, and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who signed the bill into law on April 2, 2018.
The NRCC’s commercial tells viewers to “cut off Rita Hart just like she did to you.”
“In 2018, I listened to my constituents and worked across the aisle to join all my Republican colleagues to support a bill to provide more options for Iowa farmers,” Hart said in a statement. “As I said at the time, it was not a perfect bill, but it was the only option on the table to lower health care costs for more Iowans.”
She added that she would be surprised if Miller-Meeks didn’t also support the bill, given the measure’s overwhelming support from the state’s Republican-controlled government.
Miller-Meeks’ campaign was mercurial on her stance, refusing multiple questions from the Press-Citizen about where she stood on the measure and whether she stood by the decisions of the Republican lawmakers in Iowa who voted for the bill — most of whom have endorsed her.
Campaign spokesperson Eric Woolson said the commercial did not originate from their campaign and so they would decline to comment:
“This campaign has more important things to do than to read legislation that was approved or rejected by previous sessions of the Iowa General Assembly or Congress (or) to respond to a hypothetical question about whether the candidate would have voted for it or not.”
Zachary Oren Smith writes about government, growth and development for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, at 319 -339-7354 or on Twitter via @Zacharyos.
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