In reality, she's voted multiple times to get rid of those protections.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) launched a new campaign ad on Thursday, using her sister to give the false impression that she has protected patients with preexisting conditions from insurance discrimination. The ad is her latest attempt to obscure her record of working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
In the new spot, Ernst's sister talks about living with diabetes. "I've had it my entire life. It's a preexisting condition."
Ernst then claims to have her sister's back. "No one messes with my sister — not bullies or insurance companies," she tells viewers. "I'm Joni Ernst. I approve this message because no American should ever be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition — not in my family or yours."
The ad gives the impression that the Iowa Republican has championed protections for those like her sister who have preexisting health conditions — but she has repeatedly voted to repeal the law that bans discrimination in medical insurance based on those conditions.
According to independent fact-checkers, Ernst's votes in favor of the 2017 "Trumpcare" proposals to repeal Obamacare would have allowed insurance companies to charge higher rates for patients with preexisting conditions — a practice banned by Obamacare.
During her 2014 campaign, Ernst ran ads showing her shooting at a gun range as a narrator said, "Once she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni's gonna unload."
Last month, she ran an ad in which she claimed to be a champion for mental health care. But her Obamacare repeal votes would also have gutted protections for mental health coverage — in addition to imperiling the insurance of more than 19,000 Iowans with mental illnesses and substance use disorders who rely on Medicaid expansion or Iowa's health insurance marketplace.
Ernst is not the only Republican facing a tough reelection race this year who has worked to repeal Obamacare and is now falsely claiming to be a defender of people with preexisting conditions. She is in company with Donald Trump, Sens. Steve Daines (MT), Martha McSally (AZ), and David Perdue (GA), and Rep. Don Bacon (NE).
Recent polls show Ernst to be trailing her opponent in the race for her Senate seat, Democratic businesswoman Theresa Greenfield. According to RealClearPolitics' polling average as of Oct. 8, Greenfield leads Ernst by 5 points.
A spokesperson for Ernst did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.