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The latest coverage related to the debate over the federal health care law - both in the US Supreme Court and how it touches the St. Louis region.

Hawley, McCaskill ramp up their sparring over health care

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley and Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
Durrie Bouscaren & Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and her best-known Republican rival, Josh Hawley, agree on one thing: health care — including its rising costs — is a top issue in their race this year.

And they accuse each other of misleading the public on the matter.

Take, for example, insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes or pregnancy.

Both say they want to require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. But McCaskill points to Hawley’s involvement in a lawsuit filed by a number of Republican state attorneys general that, among other things, would end the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions.

“He used taxpayer dollars to bring litigation that will once again free up insurance companies to deny coverage to millions of Missourians that have been sick before,” said McCaskill spokesman Eric Mee.

But Hawley says that Congress can act to require such coverage. He contends that McCaskill and fellow Democrats are to blame for not agreeing to changes that he says would inject more competition in the insurance marketplace.

“If she were more concerned about Missouri’s health-care costs instead of protecting President Obama’s legacy, we wouldn’t have these problems now,” Hawley said.

He asserts that the Affordable Care Act was a “big government, big insurance collusion package. It’s time to break that up. It’s time to make insurance companies compete again for a family’s business.”

McCaskill says she's not opposed to changing the federal Affordable Care Act but that she will stick by the legislation’s key provisions – which include preserving coverage for the 52 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. Many insurance companies offered no such protections before the ACA became law in 2010, she said.

She contends that Hawley has no real solutions and is simply jumping on the GOP bandwagon.

Overall, she says she is sticking with her emphasis on health care. “It is outrageous the stress people feel right now about climbing health-care costs,” McCaskill said.

Hawley emphasized that he does want Congress to “lock down’’ protections for pre-existing conditions, and to allow children and young adults under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ health-insurance plans.

Voters can expect to see lots of TV ads in the coming months about their views on healthcare.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

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