In the News

20 in 20: Star Ledger Scathing Editorial on MacArthur

Jun 18, 2018

With just 20 weeks to go until Election Day, ECU will be spotlighting a different member of the Big Money 20 every week. This week, Congressman Tom MacArthur in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District is in the spotlight.

We’ll dig into his record more this week, but a scathing opinion piece by the Star-Ledger Editorial Board on Friday did a great job underscoring MacArthur’s broken promises to his constituents. McArthur is one of Washington’s worst when it comes to putting his special interest donors ahead of the American people.  At his donors’ behest, MacArthur deceivingly crafted a revamped GOP health care bill that would have gutted protections for those with pre-existing conditions and throw millions off Medicaid. The bill could have increased the number of insured people in his district by 112%. In 2014, MacArthur received nearly $1.5 million in outside support from dark money groups that praised his record of opposing the ACA.

Star-Ledger: Trump lied about pre-existing conditions. N.J. Republicans won’t call him out on it

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board | June 15, 2018

During his campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions like cancer or diabetes. He wouldn’t let insurers charge you more just because you’re sick, he vowed, or deny coverage altogether.

That was a lie. Now he’s trying to strike down the protections he once called “one of the strongest assets” of Obamacare. Twenty Republican governors are suing in an effort to allow insurers to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions – anything from asthma to a baby with a heart defect.

And instead of fighting this, Trump’s Justice Department is siding with them. If they get their way, a newborn with a heart condition could be refused coverage in many states, or offered it only at an absurdly high cost.

Even in New Jersey, which has certain state protections, if you lose your job and have to buy insurance, then suddenly learn you have advanced cancer, you could have to wait up to 12 months to get any treatment. You might die first, or go bankrupt paying for chemotherapy.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and other Democrats just held a news conference to demand answers from the president. But none of our congressional Republicans will publicly call on Trump to defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions, 3.8 million of whom live in New Jersey.

Remember that when you fill out your November ballot. Trump has made health care issue number one. Will you allow him to sabotage your coverage, or deny it to a sick kid?

Your answer is your pick for Congress. Republican incumbent Chris Smith refused to comment. Jay Webber, vying to replace the retiring Rodney Frelinghuysen, said people with pre-existing conditions should be protected, but would not call out Trump.

Seth Grossman, the Tea Partier running for Frank LoBiondo’s seat, has argued that insurers should be allowed to discriminate against sick people, whose plight is the result of “bad decisions.”

All their Democratic challengers – Mikie Sherrill, Josh Welle and Jeff Van Drew – denounced this idea.

At least, unlike Smith, Tom MacArthur and Leonard Lance, Republican incumbents fighting hotly contested races, felt they owed their constituents an answer. “We need to let that go forward and see if it goes anywhere,” was MacArthur’s initial reaction to Trump’s legal attack.

Right. Let that go forward. Good idea. Then, after getting slammed for this by Democratic opponent Andy Kim – and for trying to slash health coverage for millions last year -MacArthur sent us a lengthy statement about the importance of health insurance for working families. Really?

MacArthur, you may recall, was a leading advocate of the Obamacare repeal. He wanted to replace it with a bogus plan that would throw millions off Medicaid right away, and expose many millions more to price hikes and cancellations.

He would double the number of uninsured in his own district, and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions. In all, 23 million Americans would have lost coverage, most of them in the working families MacArthur now says he wants to protect.

The head of The American Medical Association, Dr. James Madara, told Congress last year that claims that MacArthur’s plan would protect people with preexisting conditions were “illusory.”

Yet here MacArthur is, still asserting that protections for pre-existing conditions “are sacrosanct.” That’s special; almost Trump-like in its duplicity.

We wouldn’t put our trust in Lance, either. Yes, he voted against last year’s Republican efforts to repeal the health law and kill the individual mandate. But as his Democratic challenger, Tom Malinowski, points out, Lance supported earlier efforts to slay the health law, including protections for pre-existing conditions.

Now, like the rest, he’s trying to distance himself from Trump’s war on health care. Lance said Trump’s Justice Department should back off this effort, and if courts do rule against protections for pre-existing conditions, Congress should act- but he refused to call out Trump.

MacArthur did a similar dance, calling for “an accompanying legislative fix from Congress and President Trump,” as if he forgot this crisis is Trump’s work.

His invoking the president is revealing. If only Republicans were as afraid of what might happen to a kid with cancer as they are of rankling him.