Political Ad Fact Checker
In an advertisement supporting Republican Sue Lowden's candidacy to become Nevada's next lieutenant governor, an announcer says in part: "There was a time when Senator Mark Hutchison was against Obamacare. That was a good thing. But then he flip-flopped and voted not once, not twice but three separate times to force Obamacare on the people of Nevada. That was a bad thing." The ad, which shows Hutchison and a stack of legislative bills, goes on to tout Lowden's position that people have a right to keep their own health care insurance or choose new policies without government interference.
What's true -- Lowden, a former state senator and KLAS-TV anchor, and state senator Hutchison are facing off in the Republican primary in June. The ad is in response to Hutchison's own ad reminding viewers that he acted on behalf of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval by handling Nevada's lawsuit against Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act. The Lowden ad doesn't specify the bills Hutchison approved. But online legislative history shows he voted at least three times in the 2013 legislative session for bills designed to help implement Nevada's version of Obamacare, known as the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.
Assembly Bill 425, the only one of those bills signed into law by Sandoval, established certification provisions for individuals helping with enrollment into the exchange. Senate Bill 352 would have allowed someone affiliated with a health insurer to sit on the board governing the state insurance exchange. Senate Bill 359 would have directed the exchange to focus marketing of qualified health plans toward uninsured and underinsured individuals and small businesses that don't provide health insurance to their employees.
Hutchison also voted for Senate Bill 521, a broad state appropriations bill approved by Sandoval whose provisions included expansion of the Medicaid program to cover more individuals as required under the Affordable Care Act.
What's A Stretch -- Hutchison didn't "force Obamacare on the people of Nevada" because he wasn't yet in office when state legislators approved the health insurance exchange in 2011 under Senate Bill 440. Although Obamacare is a highly charged political issue nationally, SB 440 was approved unanimously in both houses of the Legislature save for four Assembly members who were excused from the vote. All 10 Republican state senators voted for SB440.
Likewise, among the votes Hutchison cast in 2013 in favor of the bills related to the exchange and Medicaid expansion, each was supported by all 10 Republicans in the state senate. The omission of this fact from the Lowden ad can leave one with the faulty impression that Hutchison turned his back on his party's opposition to Obamacare when in fact all his fellow Republican senators voted as he did.