Abby Finkenauer TV ad attacks Rod Blum over "age tax"

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A new political ad airing in Iowa from Democrat Abby Finkenauer centers around Rep. Rod Blum's support for the "American Health Care Act of 2017." It's a bill that attempted to repeal parts of Obamacare. We put it through the Gazette and KCRG-TV9 fact checker.

CLAIM: “I’ll never do what Rod Blum did by letting insurance companies charge older folks higher premiums. What AARP calls an age tax.”

“ROD BLUM VOTED: To Gut Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions”
Source of Claim: TV Ad from Abby Finkenauer campaign.

Analysis:

The ad from Democrat Abby Finkenauer centers around Rep. Rod Blum’s support for the “American Health Care Act of 2017”, a bill that attempted to repeal parts of Obamacare. It echoes claims we first checked last year in an ad from the PAC “Keep Iowa Healthy”.

CLAIM 1: “I’ll never do what Rod Blum did by letting insurance companies charge older folks higher premiums. What AARP calls an age tax.”

In our original fact check, we clarified that there is no actual tax on the elderly included in the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare. Finkenauer does a better job of explaining it here. According to a Congressional Budget Office report from 2017, the legislation did allow insurers to charge older people with individual health plans five times more than younger people. It is important to note that under Obamacare insurance companies were already allowed to charge older people three times more. Supporters of the GOP plan argue the higher premiums for older people reflect their generally increased health care costs.
While Finkenauer does a better job explaining the so-called “age tax”, she alludes that Rep. Blum let it happen despite the fact the AHCA never became law – so it did not happen. She also neglects to clarify that “charging older folks higher premiums” is already happening. That is why this claim gets a ‘B’.

CLAIM 2: “ROD BLUM VOTED: To Gut Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions”

Like Obamacare, the AHCA required insurers provide coverage “to any applicant”. Moreover, the legislation says that premiums cannot be reflected based on an enrollees’ health status and coverage can’t be limited because of a preexisting medical condition.

However, an amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey) let states apply for a waiver that would allow insurance companies to charge more to people with pre-existing conditions if they had a gap in coverage. But that higher premium would only be for one year, after that it must go back down.

That’s why this claim gets a ‘D’.

Conclusion:

While Finkenauer does a slightly better job explaining the “so-called” age tax, like our first check of the claim, she again lacked some context. But Finkenauer is exaggerating the “gutting” of protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The ad gets a ‘C’ overall.