Insurance Commissioner Says Heitkamp Campaign Claims About Uninsured Are “Irresponsible at Best”

Congressman Kevin Cramer, Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, U.S. House candidate Kelly Armstrong, and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem hold a press conference to discuss Democratic claims about the health insurance issue. Twitter

If you’ve been paying attention to North Dakota’s Senate campaign these days – it’s been kind of hard to miss! – you know that Senator Heidi Heitkamp and the Democrats are attacking Republicans over the issue of health insurance. They claim that Republican efforts to overturn the law, legislatively and through the courts, will result in North Dakotans losing insurance.

I wrote about that debate earlier today, but on my radio show this afternoon Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread took issue with one of the specific stats Heitkamp is using.

Specifically the idea that some 316,000 North Dakotans – a figure representing more than 40 percent of the entire state’s population – would lose health insurance coverage if Republicans get their way.

Here’s an example from Senator Heitkamp’s Facebook profile:

Democrats have been really carpet-bombing the public with that figure. Here’s North Dakota Democratic Party press secretary Courtney Rice on Twitter:


And this from a party press release:

“Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, by joining this lawsuit, is actively working to remove critical protections for over 316,000 North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions and kicking over 20,000 people off the bipartisan Medicaid expansion,” said North Dakota House Minority Leader Corey Mock. “It’s not just bad policy, but it’s a cruel and inappropriate move meant to score political points. It is Congress’ job to keep what is right and fix what is wrong with health care policy. I urge our Republican colleagues — including candidates for state and federal office — to join Democratic-NPL leaders to apply our attention and resources to find sensible, bipartisan solutions to this growing, nonpartisan problem.”

The source for this number appears to be a report prepared by Dakotans for Health Care – a group formed by former Democratic Congressman and current lobbyist Earl Pomeroy and former Obama administration official Mark Wakefield – but their number is only meant to represent the number of North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions.

Not North Dakotans at risk of losing their insurance should Obamacare be overturned.

I spoke about the number with Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread today. He called its use “irresponsible at best,” noting that more than 80 percent of North Dakotans get health insurance through their employers or a government program and thus wouldn’t be impacted by any changes to the law requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Why are Heitkamp and the Democrats using this number in such a misleading way? It probably has something to do with Heitkamp needing voters to feel hurt and afraid. Heitkamp’s approach to politics consists of demonizing her opponents and scaring voters.

This is a part of that tactic. Which is ironic, given Heitkamp’s recently expressed scorn for “scare tactics.”

Here’s the full audio of my radio show today featuring Godfread’s comments:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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