Full disclosure: I’ve been a longtime supporter of ObamaCare, if nothing else because of my own personal experience with trying to get healthcare as a self-employed female with a pre-existing condition. Until the healthcare law was passed, I was one of millions of Americans who were caught in the outlandishly expensive and capricious mess of high risk health insurance pools, ones whose monthly premiums were twice my mortgage, and didn’t cover anything anyway.
In other words, I’m a little biased. But then again, so might be roughly 15,000 Alaskans, many of whom have affordable health insurance for the first time in their lives under the Affordable Care Act.
Senate candidate Dan Sullivan has run a pretty decent campaign so far. His philosophy has, by and large, gelled nicely with a large hunk of the electorate. And he has lived a life, apparently, that’s been able to hold up to scrutiny. Mostly, he hasn’t made a huge gaffe, which is pretty impressive considering that this is his first time running for office, ever.
Gaffes often happen, however, when politicians feel that they’re on solid ground and are feeling comfortable. In an interview with the ADN on Wednesday, Dan Sullivan talked about health care and about his plan for repealing ObamaCare, which has been one of his main platforms since he began campaigning. Apparently, he felt comfortable with the subject. Perhaps too comfortable. What he ended up doing was being very comfortable in showing how little he appears to know about the subject.
You’d think that since he’s spent so much time and effort talking about the law—and reading it, so he said–that he might have taken the time to learn why the mammoth overhaul of the healthcare system came about in the first place, and why people had been clamoring and literally dying for change.
But he doesn’t appear interested. He doesn’t even known how much he, a vet, pays in monthly premiums. He doesn’t seem to know anything about high risk pools. He talks about tort reform being a panacea, but he, a state’s rights guy, appears not to be aware that most states have enacted tort reform. Alaska signed significant tort reform into law in 1997. It hasn’t done much good.
Sullivan says that one solution would be to allow states to buy insurance across state lines. Once again, had he or his campaign done a quick google search, he would know that individual states control their own insurance markets. They get to decide, not the federal government, if they want to accept out-of-state insurance companies into their market. As of now, five states have laws that allow for such cross-border exchanges. It hasn’t done them much good.
But most galling was that Sullivan wasn’t even aware that women were routinely charged more than men for health insurance, just because they are women.
How he could have missed that fact in the many debates on the subject is beyond me, and will likely be beyond many women.
Displaying his ignorance—and apparent disinterest– about health care in this country, and the thousands of Alaskans whose very lives depend, on it might not officially qualify in the minds of many Alaskans as a “gaffe.”
But it should.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org