There’s something puzzling about the first campaign ad by House Speaker Thom Tillis’ (R-NC), who is challenging Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC).
The ad features Tillis bashing Obamacare while simultaneously wearing a pin of an autism advocacy group that highlighted the benefits of the new law, like prohibiting coverage denial for a pre-existing condition, which autism has sometimes been classified as.
“Obamacare is a disaster but the president won’t admit it,” Tillis said in the ad, which he released Thursday, while wearing a puzzle piece-shaped pin that is a symbol for Autism Speaks, which supports autism research and awareness.
“The debt’s out of control and neither party has stopped it,” Tillis continued. “Kay Hagan enabled President Obama’s worst ideas. She refused to clean up his mess. So you and I have to clean up hers.”
The thing is, Autism Speaks has highlighted aspects of Obamacare that apply to people with autism. From an Affordable Care Act explainer on its website:
- Coverage of a minimum set of “essential health benefits” – including behavioral health treatment, habilitative services, prescription drugs, and pediatric services
- Coverage with no lifetime or annual dollar caps on essential health benefits
- The option for children to enroll on their parent’s insurance policy up to age 26
- Guaranteed availability of child-only policies for children under age 19
- Greater financial protection through annual limits on out-of-pocket costs
- Financial assistance for qualifying families to help pay monthly premiums or reduce out-of-pocket costs
- Coverage of preventive services without cost-sharing (such as copays or deductibles), including autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
- Greater transparency in appealing a decision after your insurer denies a claim
- Limits on discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, among other factors
And following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law as constitutional, Autism Speaks published a press release that said, “It is now the obligation of HHS to respect the intent of Congress by insisting all states include behavioral health treatment, such as ABA for autism.”
While both statements are not full-throated partisan endorsements of the law, they are far more forgiving than what Tillis or other Republican Senate candidates have said about it this campaign cycle — often calling for a complete repeal of the law, which would again allow for discrimination against pre-existing conditions.
Tillis’ campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry from TPM.
In a statement to TPM, Autism Speaks praised Tillis for helping to move autism insurance legislation, which requires insurance coverage for treatment in children diagnosed with the condition before their eighth birthdays. Autism Speaks also said it would continue to highlight the benefits of Obamacare.
“North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis led the passage of autism insurance reform legislation through the House in 2013,” the Autism Speaks statement said. “We look forward to working with the North Carolina autism community to complete the job this year with Speaker Tillis as one of our champions. Autism Speaks will continue to promote the autism-specific benefits and opportunities provided under the Affordable Care Act.”
Tillis himself has called on a complete defunding of the law.
“I believe Obamacare is a mortal threat to our economy,” Tillis said in September 2013. “It will decrease healthcare quality and raise healthcare premiums and Republicans should do everything in our power to undo it.”
Watch Tillis’s ad below:
(Photo Credit: Youtube)