Republican Senate candidates vow to take away health insurance from 1.3 million Michiganders

By Kyle Kaminski

December 5, 2023

Former President Donald Trump is asking Congress to rip away healthcare for millions of Americans. In Michigan, three Republican candidates stand ready to answer his call. 

MICHIGAN—Three Republican candidates running for a chance to represent Michigan in the US Senate have each voiced support for repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move which would lead to millions of Michiganders being denied care or potentially losing coverage altogether.

Among them: 

Former US Reps. Mike Rogers and Peter Meijer; and Detroit-area businessman Sandy Pensler—all of whom are candidates in next year’s Republican primary election for US Senate. 

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Former President Donald Trump is back at it again with his obsession of repealing Obamacare, which would cause an estimated 3 million Michiganders to either be denied healthcare or become at risk of losing their coverage. And this time, he brought friends.

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Here’s the deal:

Last month, former President Donald Trump—who spent his first term trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act—once again attacked the popular legislation, noting that he was “seriously looking at alternatives.” He also criticized the few Republican holdouts who voted “not to terminate it” back in 2017, including the now deceased former Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

The suggestion was initially met with crickets from fellow Republicans who haven’t thought seriously about repealing the law in years. But in recent days, some prominent Republican politicians (like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) have latched onto the idea in their own campaigns.

With President Joe Biden in office, Obamacare is safe. But if Trump wins next November and if enough Republicans are elected to office, the law could once again be at risk of being repealed.

What’s going on in Michigan? 

Several Republicans are running for a chance to take control of a Senate seat that has been held for decades by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is retiring at the end of next year. 

The winner of the Republican primary election will face off against a Democrat for the seat in November. US Rep. Elissa Slotkin is widely viewed as the frontrunner on the Democratic side.

Slotkin supports the Affordable Care Act, helped pass legislation to lower prescription drug prices, and has made lowering the cost of healthcare a central component of her campaign. But on the Republican side, Trump’s latest call to repeal Obamacare appears to have wide support.

Mike Rogers

Former Republican US Rep. Mike Rogers—who spent most of his career trying to rip away reproductive rights—announced his Senate campaign in September. He has since ramped up efforts to pick up support among Michigan’s far-right Republicans by defending Trump, who is facing 91 state and federal felony charges in four jurisdictions for a variety of alleged crimes.

During his time in Congress, Rogers voted against the passage of the Affordable Care Act. And in 2012, he vowed to “redouble” efforts to elect more Republicans who also wanted to gut the legislation which, at the time, he labeled as a “disastrous law.”

Peter Meijer

Former Republican Congressman Peter Meijer, an heir to the eponymous multi-billion-dollar Midwestern grocery store chain, announced last month that he was also joining the crowded field of nearly a dozen candidates vying for the open US Senate seat in Michigan next year.

Meijer has also said he opposes abortion rights—even in cases of rape—and that he supports federal legislation to ban or restrict abortion. But that’s not the only healthcare he’s against.

Despite voting to impeach Trump, Meijer has vowed to support the former president’s renewed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, if elected. In 2020, he signed a pledge to do just that.

Meijer has since tried to clarify his stance after signing the pledge.

During a debate in 2020 with US Rep. Hillary Scholten, Meijer reportedly said that he would not “support a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without making sure there was a workable replacement that protected pre-existing conditions and expanded access.”

Sandy Pensler

Grosse Pointe Park businessman Sandy Pensler also joined the field of Republicans last week.

Pensler, 67, is the founder of a private investment firm near Detroit and has spent several million dollars of his personal fortune on two failed attempts to get elected to Congress—most recently in 2018, when he lost the Republican primary election for Senate to John James.

On the campaign trail in 2018, Pensler made it clear that he opposes reproductive rights across the country—even once labeling the precedent set in Roe v. Wade as “tyrannical.” As a businessman, Pensler has also long opposed efforts to increase the minimum wage in Michigan, and has said that former President Donald Trump’s policies were “terrific.”

And just like Rogers, Pensler has also labeled the Affordable Care Act as a “disaster” and made it clear that he wouldn’t think twice about repealing the law if he was elected to Congress.

So what?

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would rip away healthcare insurance from nearly 40 million Americans who get coverage through the ACA marketplace or its Medicaid expansion and enable insurance companies to once again deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. 

In Michigan, about 1.3 million people would lose their insurance and about 1.8 million with pre-existing health conditions could lose critical protections, federal estimates show.

Advocates have said that the loss of the ACA would be particularly devastating for people of color, older adults, rural communities, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.

“Anyone who thought the Republican war on health care was over has their head in the sand,” Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, said in a statement this week. “Donald Trump once again opened the door for Republicans to tell the truth on health care: they want to repeal the ACA and rip away protections that touch nearly every household in this country.”

READ MORE: Whitmer signs bills to protect healthcare for millions of Michiganders

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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