Friday, December 13, 2013
"Both opponents in this race ... do not believe insurance companies should have to provide contraception as a health benefit. ... If you are one of those people wondering why a Democrat is in the race for U.S. Senate, this is why."
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-- U.S. Senate candidate and state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, on her Facebook page
We're going to assume "both opponents" refers to the two highest-polling candidates so far, independent Angus King and Republican Charlie Summers, although six people will appear on the ballot in Maine's U.S. Senate race.
Starting in August, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, will require that insured women, with some exemptions, be covered for contraception without co-pays, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Summers doesn't support the Affordable Care Act and doesn't think insurers should be forced to provide contraception, said his campaign manager, Lance Dutson. So Dill's right about him.
But a commenter on Dill's Facebook page pressed her on the statement as it relates to King's position.
In answer, Dill later commented on the page that King "does not support the (Affordable Care Act) provision that will make contraception available without co-pays, despite the (overwhelming) evidence that birth control greatly improves health outcomes for women and families." Her campaign released statements Friday and Tuesday saying essentially the same thing.
Overall, King has supported the Affordable Care Act, though he says on his website "it is not perfect." His site also says King supports "a woman's ability to make decisions about all of her health-care issues in concert with her choice of advisors."
But when the Portland Phoenix asked King in a questionnaire published in May if he believes "health-insurance plans should cover contraception without co-pays," he answered no, explaining that "plans should cover contraception the same way that they cover other medications, procedures or devices."
Let's recap: From the above public statements, King appears to support contraception coverage, but not necessarily without a co-pay. But he generally supports a law that mandates contraception coverage without a co-pay.
We contacted King's spokeswoman, Crystal Canney, to clarify. She said Friday that King supports the contraception-coverage provision as written in the Affordable Care Act.
The Supreme Court hadn't yet ruled to uphold the health care law when the Phoenix interviewed King. Canney said its unknown status affected and complicated the campaign's answer.
"Whether or not a co-pay should be charged is the part of the question that didn't lend itself to an easy yes or no answer because of the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act," Canney said. "There's no doubt in our statement that Angus supports health-care coverage for contraception."
Then, on the same day we spoke with Canney, King's website was updated to say, "I support health-care coverage for contraception. I also support the provision of the Affordable Care Act which ensures that insurance companies cover preventive care without co-pays including mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and contraception."
Verdict: There was never evidence King doesn't support requiring insurers to cover contraception -- co-pays were the issue. Dill's clarifications of the statement were apparently true when issued. King then clarified (some would say publicly reversed) himself on the issue. So blame his cloudy stance for much of the confusion.
We rate Dill's original statement mostly false.
Staff Writer Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5632 or at: