Linda Thompson Gonzalez would have Broward voters believe Rep. Chip LaMarca wants to take health care away from people with pre-existing conditions.
Forward Majority Action has been helping Gonzalez, a Democrat challenging LaMarca in House District 93, by claiming in direct mail ads that the incumbent “voted to let insurance companies deny health coverage for pre-existing conditions, including COVID-19 treatment.”
The mailer continues, “Warning: Under Chip LaMarca’s health care plan, one bad diagnosis could mean financial disaster for working families.”
The attack is as unoriginal as it is false. The citations on the mailer prove as much.
Gonzalez’ mailer refers to LaMarca’s vote in favor to a bill passed in the 2019 Legislative Session (SB 322).
Since even the 2020 Session feels like it happened a decade ago, here’s a refresher: SB 322 was a health insurance bill — now law — carried by incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson.
There are many provisions in the bill, and yes, it does address pre-existing conditions. Not by stripping away care, by requiring insurers to offer coverage to all Floridians, regardless of any prior medical diagnosis.
From the bill: “An insurer may not limit or exclude benefits under such policy, including a denial of coverage applicable to an individual as a result of information relating to an individual’s health status before the individual’s effective date of coverage, or if coverage is denied, the date of the denial.”
As with any bill, there’s a dash of legalese, but there was no confusion at the time.
“What’s sweeping about this is that Florida is going to change its policy on health care to say we are going to require our insurers to cover pre-existing conditions,” Simpson said when the bill was moving through the Legislature last year.
And when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill, Christine Sexton of News Service of Florida wrote that it “will put into the Florida insurance code a requirement for health insurance to be sold to people regardless of pre-existing medical conditions.”
The only catch, if one can even call it that, is the protection only kicks in if there is a repeal of the federal law requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.
So, in effect, Floridians with pre-existing conditions are currently guaranteed access to health insurance under federal law, and if that protection is stripped away, lawmakers — including LaMarca — have added a failsafe to ensure they will still have options.
“I’m completely shocked and disgusted that anyone would stoop so low to accuse me of something like this. My uncle, a lifelong doctor and naval officer was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. My cousin has a traumatic brain injury. Countless friends and family members suffering from cancer. This is my community and I am not a rubber stamp for any one political party or group,” LaMarca said.
“This attack is what we can expect from a DC insider, political opportunist, and a true rubber stamp that silences voices who are different from hers.”
At best, the attacks show Gonzalez and her backers don’t understand the intricacies of health care policy. At worst, they are lying. That’s likely the case, as the pre-existing condition attacks aren’t the first lobbed against LaMarca this cycle.
Gonzalez has also mocked LaMarca’s work to economically empower student-athletes who deal with the reality of poverty at alarming rates and she’s lied about his record of supporting teachers and schools.
The latter borders on the absurd — LaMarca stood at the Governor’s side when he announced his teacher pay raise proposal, he didn’t support arming teachers, and he is endorsed by Parkland parent and school board member Lori Alhadeff.
LaMarca is pushing back with two new ads of his own to combat these lies and highlight his proven, bipartisan record of getting things done for the residents of District 93.
One of them — “It’s not cool to tell lies” — has a title all but Gonzalez would agree with. The other — “People over politics” — is a tenet she should have considered adopting before seeking public office.