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Fact check: Stefanik’s statements on health care are misleading

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks with the Enterprise editorial board Oct. 5, 2018, at the newspaper’s Saranac Lake office. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — When U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik talked with the Enterprise editorial board on Oct. 5, she made a claim about her health care voting record that doesn’t check out after some post-interview research.

In the face-to-face interview, Stefanik said there were several lies being spread about her, including one that she had voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan. While she opposed most of the ACA, Stefanik said this month she never voted to repeal without offering a replacement package.

“I have always been very clear: I do not support repeal-only,” Stefanik said. “Some of my colleagues do. I support repeal with comprehensive replacement.”

However, in February 2015 — four weeks into her first term — she voted for a bill to repeal the ACA without directly replacing it.

H.R.596, a budget reconciliation bill, would have repealed the ACA and provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, effective 180 days after the passing of the bill. The bill laid out guidelines for creating a replacement bill in broad terms, but provided no deadline for when this replacement should pass.

Shortly before voting for that bill, Stefanik told the Medical Society of the State of New York, in Lake Placid, that she thought a Republican replacement bill would be released later in 2015. As it turned out, no GOP replacement went public until 2017, after Republican President Donald Trump was in office.

H.R.596 would have set 12 provisions for a replacement that included lowering health care premiums, providing people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health coverage and increasing the number of insured Americans.

In a follow-up phone interview Monday Stefanik maintained that this bill adequately provided a replacement system for the ACA and said the vote was a minor one.

“This is a budget reconciliation bill, which is a procedure in terms of the Congressional rules,” Stefanik said. “I voted to move forward the process, the budget reconciliation process.”

However, in the Oct. 5 interview Stefanik said, “I am held to account for my record on procedural votes moving legislation forward,” and said her Democratic opponent, Tedra Cobb, should “own her votes.”

For the most part, Stefanik seems to stick by her claim that “I do not support repeal-only.” Other than H.R.596, the Enterprise could not find an instance in which she voted to repeal without a replacement.

Other health care votes she took included to remove major aspects of the ACA, such as the individual mandate and medical device tax, while keeping coverage for pre-existing conditions and letting people stay on their parents’ plans up to age 26.

CNN sourcing

The previous article stated that the campaign’s “Cuomo Clone” ad states that “Taxin’ Tedra wants a trillion dollars in new taxes,” citing a CNN source the Enterprise was unable to verify. On Monday, Lenny Alcivar, Stefanik’s campaign director sent over a link to a CNN article published on the date the ad gives, titled “Sanders’ last ‘Medicare for all’ plan cost nearly $1.4 trillion.”

Though this article does not mention Cobb, it reports that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare for all’ plan, like one she might support, would cost nearly $1.4 trillion a year. To pay for this amount, Sanders proposed a new 2.2 percent income tax on all Americans, a 6.2 percent levy on employers and increase taxes on the wealthy. Cobb supports some version of Medicare for all but has not singled out a particular plan.

Sanders said despite this extra cost, individuals would save money because they would not be paying monthly premiums or deductibles to insurance companies, and that businesses would save more than $9,400 annually, per employee, because they would not be picking up a share of workers’ premiums.

The Enterprise has found that Stefanik’s claim about her health care voting record being maligned was misleading as was the claim in the television ad.

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