Screenshot: Josh Hawley

Missouri GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who’s running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, has a new ad out emphasizing his personal stake in not letting insurance companies deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, one of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

“Earlier this year, we learned our oldest [son] has a chronic disease, a pre-existing conditions,” Hawley says in the 30-second spot. “We know what that’s like...I support forcing insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions.”

One remarkable thing about the ad is that it shows how terrified the GOP is of healthcare being a primary issue in the fall, after multiple failed attempts at a repeal last year. But another curious thing is that Hawley is publicly breaking with one of the Missouri Republican Party’s most prominent elected officials: Attorney General Josh Hawley.

Earlier this year, Hawley’s office became one of nineteen state attorneys general to join Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in suing the federal government over Obamacare. The lawsuit, which was backed by Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department in June, argues that when Congress eliminated the individual mandate in last year’s tax bill, it invalidated all of the Affordable Care Act, which includes the provision eliminating pre-existing conditions.

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Here’s an excerpt from a press release Hawley put out in February when the lawsuit was first filed. (Emphasis mine.)

The complaint, filed late Monday, explains that the ACA, as recently amended, forces an unconstitutional regime onto the states and their citizens. In NFIB v. Sebelius, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the core provision of the ACA—the individual mandate—as a “tax.” However, Congress has recently repealed this tax, while leaving the mandate in place. Since the Supreme Court has already held that Congress has no authority to impose the mandate on Americans unless it is a tax, the mandate is now unconstitutional and the ACA must fall.

“The Affordable Care Act was never constitutional,” Hawley said. “My Office will continue to fight to take health care choices out of the hands of DC bureaucrats and put them in the hands of families and physicians.”

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Last month, a group of Republican senators introduced a bill that purported to protect this provision of Obamacare if the law is struck down. As a coalition of patient groups like the American Heart Association noted in a statement, it’s still a terrible deal for people who have such pre-existing conditions.

“We appreciate that this legislation would prohibit the denial of coverage and rating based on health status,” the groups said in a statement earlier this month. “However, it would not ban pre-existing condition exclusions and would remove rating restrictions based on age, gender, tobacco use, or occupation. This means that many individuals could still face higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs and, even if enrollees paid the increased premiums for many months, they could still be denied benefits because of a pre-existing condition.”

“In short, this bill would not replace critical protections in current law if the court rules unfavorably for patients and consumers in Texas v. U.S. This is not acceptable for the patients we represent,” the statement added.

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But as this (bad) bill hasn’t even been passed, people who have pre-existing conditions would be truly fucked if the lawsuit Hawley signed onto were to succeed. (Oral arguments took place at a federal court in Fort Worth earlier this month.)

Given their strong working relationship, maybe Josh Hawley can convince Josh Hawley about the importance of protecting people—like the son they share—who have pre-existing conditions.