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GOP Senate Candidate Says People With Pre-Existing Conditions Are ‘Wealthier’

As Election Day draws near, Karin Housley, a Republican state senator running to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate, apparently thinks people with pre-existing conditions are “wealthier.” 

In an update to the health care page on Housley’s website and in a new TV ad, the Republican now says she supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions but characterizes them as “generally older and relatively wealthier.” Her previous health care page had a total of three sentences, according to a screengrab from last week on the Internet Archive.

Housley’s claim that she supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is dubious. Earlier this year, she said she was disappointed that Republicans in Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Had they succeeded, they would have gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And she recently said she supports Republican proposals to sell so-called “skinny” health insurance plans that don’t cover as many services and can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Her Democratic opponent, Sen. Tina Smith, says Housley is attempting to deliberately mislead the public with this new language.

“Those with pre-existing conditions like cancer, pregnancy, asthma, arthritis or diabetes shouldn’t be discriminated against,” Smith said in a statement. “About half the people who live in our state have a pre-existing condition, and this new attempt by Karin Housley to explain away why she has repeatedly supported policies that would not protect them should trouble every Minnesotan.” 

Housley made headlines earlier this month after HuffPost reported that in 2009 she compared then-first lady Michelle Obama to a “chimp” in a Facebook post. In the comment thread on her post, Housley said the chimpanzee in the 1951 film “Bedtime for Bonzo,” starring then-actor Ronald Reagan, likely had better posture than Mrs. Obama.

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