US President Donald Trump is greeted by US senatorial candidate Attorney General Josh Hawley upon arrival at Springfield-Branson National Airport in Springfield, Missouri on September 21, 2018.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Missouri’s Hawley plays a misguided game on health care protections


Every election season, voters are confronted with campaign messages that are often cynical and careless when it comes to the truth. But ThinkProgress highlighted an especially brazen message being peddled in one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. Senate races.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is currently running for Senate against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), put out an ad Monday afternoon touting his commitment to protecting people with pre-existing conditions, despite currently working as part of a lawsuit that aims to end protections for pre-existing conditions.

“We’ve got two perfect little boys. Just ask their mama,” Hawley says in the ad, which his campaign shared on Twitter Monday. “Earlier this year, we learned our oldest has a rare chronic disease, a pre-existing condition. We know what that’s like.”

He continues, saying, “I’m Josh Hawley. I support forcing insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions – and Claire McCaskill knows it.”

At face value, this may sound encouraging. A conservative red-state Republican supports a leading progressive health care priority? And he’s bragging about it in a campaign ad? Great news, indeed.

But Missouri’s Josh Hawley is currently participating in a lawsuit attacking the Affordable Care Act. The intended effect of the litigation isn’t subtle: if Hawley and his Republican cohorts have their way, the existing protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions in “Obamacare” would disappear.

In other words, the same GOP state attorney general who’s effectively trying to gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions is running campaign ads telling voters he holds the opposite position.

What about Hawley’s specific assertion that he supports “forcing insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions”? There is a Republican proposal on this, which the Missouri candidate may support, but any serious analysis of the legislation shows that it’s designed to leave Americans much worse off than they are now.

If all of this seems oddly familiar, there’s a good reason for that. Donald Trump recently bragged that he and his party are the champions of protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and he was shamelessly lying. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), currently running for a third term, supports his party’s lawsuit to gut the ACA, even as he assures voters that he’ll help the families hurt by the case if his side succeeds.

Six weeks before Election Day, health care is one of the top issues for voters, and Republicans realize that the public opposes the GOP’s agenda. As a result, we see Republican candidates like Missouri’s Josh Hawley pretending to agree with Democrats, hoping voters won’t know the difference.