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Will Health Care Be Deciding Election Issue?

About 100,000 North Dakotans are considered to have pre-existing medical conditions. (valelopardo/Pixabay)
About 100,000 North Dakotans are considered to have pre-existing medical conditions. (valelopardo/Pixabay)
October 29, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. – Health care could be one of the biggest deciding factors in this year's election for voters in North Dakota and nationwide.

According to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 75 percent of Americans say it's very important that the Affordable Care Act provision protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions remains law.

Former state Rep. Ben Hanson of West Fargo says the issue is front and center for a lot of North Dakotans.

"It is very much on their minds because, of course, a very large chunk – estimates somewhere around 100,000 of them qualify for the much talked about pre-existing conditions that are being volleyballed back and forth," he states.

Hanson says the issue takes on greater significance because North Dakota is home to one of the most watched Senate races of the midterm.

Nationwide, an estimated 27 percent of Americans ages 18-to-64 have some kind of pre-existing health condition, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Hanson notes that North Dakota expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2013, which helped cover about 35,000 people and cut the state's uninsured rate in half.

He says the majority of North Dakotans support building on the ACA rather than getting rid of it.

"A full repeal would also repeal the Medicaid expansion clause in the Affordable Care Act, which would then potentially take away that insurance coverage for tens of thousands of North Dakotans,” he points out. “And when you're looking at a state whose population is roughly 740,000 people, 35,000 is a very large number."

Kaiser polling shows Americans across the political spectrum support pre-existing condition protections. That includes 86 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND