With four days to go before the midterm election, Republican Congressional candidate Maria Elvira Salazar has lodged a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service accusing the left-leaning Center for Voter Information of mailing out fliers that “lie” about her healthcare stance.
Salazar, who is running to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional district, said she wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act but maintain the federal law’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
Under current law, championed by then-President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress, health insurance companies can’t deny coverage or charge patients more because of health problems they had before their new health coverage began.
In a political mailer sent to a voter in District 27, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit states that Salazar does not “support requiring health insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions” and that her opponent, Democrat Donna Shalala, does.
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The mailer cites Salazar’s campaign website, which includes no mention of the Republican’s stance on maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Shalala, the former secretary of Health and Human Services, said she would defend the Affordable Care Act if elected.
Salazar, who held a press conference at her attorney’s office in Miami on Friday, said the flier’s claim that she supports stripping money from Medicaid was also false.
“We need to reform and do better with Medicaid, but never to abolish Medicaid,” Salazar said. “I mean, that would be inhumane.”
Paige Gardner, the founder and president of the Center for Voter Information, said the mailer’s claims about Salazar’s stance on healthcare were based on the Republican’s support for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which will cut individual tax rates for eight years and significantly slashes the corporate tax rate.
“In our mailings concerning the congressional campaign between Donna Shalala and Maria Elvira Salazar, we relied in part on candidate Salazar’s website, in which she clearly supports the Republican tax cut,” Gardner said in a statement. “Most studies indicate that this tax cut will lead to the weakening of protections for pre-existing medical conditions, and to cutting Medicaid funding overall. It is the responsibility of candidates to understand the full implications of the positions they support.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month blamed rising federal deficits and debt — the budget deficit ballooned to $779 billion in President Donald Trump’s first full fiscal year as president — on the unwillingness to curb spending on entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
“It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg published Oct. 16.
The flier does not claim Salazar would abolish the federal health insurance program for low-income Americans. It includes a post-script that states “a candidate’s position is sometimes more complicated than a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
“We don’t want to cut funding,” Salazar added. “”We want to have a better Medicaid and help everybody that needs it. And we want to keep the [coverage for] pre-existing conditions and we want to give a better healthcare coverage to people at a lower price.”
Salazar’s campaign website promises “cost-effective and patient-centered solutions” by allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines and repealing “needless regulation.”