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i9 Fact Check: Advocacy group’s attack ad misleads voters on Rep. Hinson’s views

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 6:20 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An ad from an advocacy group, specifically a 501(c)(4), is claiming Rep. Ashley Hinson’s past investments in insurance is influencing her votes on health care issues. Unrig Our Economy is spending $4 Million on the TV ad campaign targeting Republicans in Iowa, California, Nebraska and New York.

Rep. Hinson is running for her second term in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district against State Senator Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids).

Source: Unrig Our Economy

According to Unrig Our Economy’s website, the group says its goal is to create a better economy for people rather than corporations.

Claim #1: “Hinson voted no to capping insulin prices”

Analysis: This claim refers to Rep. Hinson’s vote on a bill in March 2022 that would have limited the cost of insulin products to $35 or 25% of a plan’s negotiated price, whichever is lower, for those covered under Medicare or private health insurance

Known as the Affordable Insulin Now Act, it would give consumers a lower price on a drug costing around $98 in 2018, according to the Rand Corporation. The California-based think tank said Insulin costs about $14 in Japan, $12 in Canada, and about $7.50 in the United Kingdom.

The issue was also considered in the Build Back Better Act, which Rep. Ashley Hinson also voted against. The Build Back Better Act had other things included in the legislation like free child care for children under six years old, mandate four weeks of paid family and medical leave and funding for multiple projects.

The Affordable Insulin Now Act also had other things included in the legislation like increasing funding for the Medicare Improvement Fund, which according to the Social Security Administration tries to make improvements to the original Medicare fee-for-service program under Parts A and B.

Rep. Ashley Hinson told the Gazette she voted against the bill because she believes it would raise premiums for millions of Americans. The congresswoman also said in Op-Ed she supports another version of the cap on Insulin prices in a bill called the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, which would put a $50 cap on insulin prices along with many other changes.

That bill, which was introduced by a Republican, was never voted on in the house.

Conclusion: The claim is true – Hinson voted against capping prices on Insulin. But she has explained her vote was more against how that cap was structured. This is why we give this claim a B.

Claim #2: “Hinson voted no to Medicare covering hearing aids”

Analysis: This claim refers to Rep. Hinson’s vote on the previously mentioned Build Back Better Act in November 2021.

The Build Back Better Act is a key proposal from the Biden Administration that remains stuck in the U.S. Senate. It would create a number of changes and expand funding for America’s welfare and social programs. A section in the 2,468-page bill would require Medicare to cover hearing aids.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the bill would allow people to get a new hearing aid once per ear every five years to people diagnosed with hearing loss starting in 2023. The nonprofit based in California said in 2018 the average out-of-pocket spending on hearing aids was about $914.

This was one small piece of the $2.2 trillion proposal that also provides free universal preschool, establishes a methane fee on some oil and gas facilities while investing in electric vehicles, cybersecurity, and supply chain infrastructure.

Rep. Hinson didn’t support the Build Back Better Act, arguing the cost and scope of the bill was too much.

Conclusion: While Hinson voted against the proposal, the claim lacks the context that it was part of a much larger bill that included hundreds of other issues. This is why this claim gets a B.

Claim #3: “All after Hinson and her husband made over $1 million from investments in insurance and big drug companies”

Analysis: This claim uses Rep. Hinson’s financial disclosure report and a periodic transaction report. Those, according to the Clerk for the United Statess House of Representatives, contain information about sources of income for members and people running for congress.

The specific claim refers to an insurance company called Transportation Insurance and Consultants, Inc. The company, which goes by Elliot-Hartman Insurance Services, sells transportation insurance in eastern Iowa. Rep. Hinson’s husband, Matt Arenholz, is listed as an insurance agent on the company’s website. Documents from the Secretary of State’s Office list Arenholz as a director and treasurer for the company as early as 2014.

According to Rep. Hinson’s financial disclosure, her husband has dividends from the company worth between $250,000 to $500,000. Then, according to a periodic transaction report, sold his interest in the insurance company for more than $1 Million on March 5, 2021.

The transaction report also shows Rep. Hinson sold stock in Heron Therapeutics, which is a drug company. The amount was from $1,001 to $15,000 with capital gains of more than $200.

This came after Rep. Hinson told the Telegraph Herald that she would sell all publicly traded stocks unless it was a mutual fund or exchange traded fund.

Conclusion: Hinson did profit from selling insurance investments before voting on these two health insurance proposals. However, a key here is the insurance investments in question are not for a health insurance company but one that sells trucking and transportation insurance. That’s why the insinuation of this claim is misleading, giving it a D.

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