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Washington Post accuses Erik Paulsen of 'misleading voters' over its pre-existing conditions fact check

Paulsen is one of 7 Republicans the newspaper says are misleading voters.

The Washington Post has accused 7 Republican lawmakers of misleading voters over one of its own fact checks, with Minnesota 3rd District Rep. Erik Paulsen among them.

The newspaper says Republicans have been using one of its fact checks as proof that the GOP's American Health Care Act (AHCA) would have protected pre-existing conditions.

But the Washington Post says that the lawmakers have been "twisting an unrelated fact check and are misleading voters" by citing a "Four Pinocchios" column written by WaPo Fact Checker Glenn Kessler.

Four Pinocchios is the highest rating for a mistruth spoken by a politician given by Kessler, who says Republicans have been using it to claim any suggestion the AHCA didn't protect pre-existing conditions is wrong.

Kessler cites a statement made by Paulsen last Monday during a debate, in which he said: "We guaranteed in language — it was given Four Pinocchios to anyone who claims that preexisting conditions was not covered by the nonpartisan fact check in The Washington Post — it covers preexisting conditions. There is a specific sentence in the legislation to make sure no insurance would be able to deny that."

Kessler called out Paulsen in a piece published Monday titled, "These Republicans are misleading voters about our Obamacare fact checks."

Bring Me The News has reached out to Rep. Paulsen's campaign for comment, but the WaPo said none of the 7 lawmakers agreed to withdraw their citation of the Four Pinocchios.

What the WaPo fact check actually said

Kessler says the Republicans in question appear to be referring to a fact check he did of a 2017 claim by Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris that 129 million people could be denied coverage under the AHCA. 

The reason he gave this Four Pinocchios was because Harris "significantly inflated" the number of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The piece does not however make any mention that the AHCA would guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Kessler notes that the AHCA contained this line: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions."

The columnist describes this line as a "pubic relations exercise" and doesn't necessarily mean that health insurance couldn't become more unaffordable under the Republican health policy.

A subsequent report by the Congressional Budget Office found that under the AHCA, states could have claimed waivers that would have resulted in huge costs for people with pre-existing health conditions, potentially pricing them out of the market.

While the AHCA may not have permitted insurers to deny coverage to someone with pre-existing conditions, the bill didn't exactly protect sick Americans by ensuring they could obtain health insurance they can afford.

"The core of the fact check, however, was about Harris’s estimate of 129 million, not the guarantee of coverage," Kessler wrote. "So these lawmakers are cherry-picking the Pinocchio rating, even though the fact check mostly examined an entirely different issue — the 129 million number."

Paulsen was one of the House members who voted in favor of the AHCA, which ultimately died in the Senate because of the late John McCain's 11th hour "nay."

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