Rep. Knight’s catastrophic attacks on health care could get him fired

Congressman Steve Knight

Rep. Steve Knight's voting record includes votes against pre-existing condition coverage and votes for a health care "age tax" for residents aged 50-64.

Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) is locked in a tight race with Democratic nominee Katie Hill, with health care a central issue in the campaign.

Hill, an executive for a nonprofit serving the homeless, has pledged to support and improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

On the other end of the spectrum, Knight is scrambling to explain his contradictory positions on health care, where his statements are often in conflict with the votes he has taken in Congress.

Knight ran for Congress in 2014 pledging to get rid of the ACA, which is one of the few promises he actually worked to keep. At every opportunity, Knight voted to rip away the protections contained in the ACA, no matter what the consequences of his actions might be.

At times, Knight voted for a full repeal of the law with no replacement, supporting draconian positions that would threaten the health insurance of millions of families.

In 2017, Knight once again voted to gut the ACA, this time voting in favor of a Republican health care plan which, had it become law, would have had catastrophic consequences for men, women, and children across the country.

The plan Knight backed would have caused 23 million people to lose their health insurance, including thousands of his own constituents. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill would have caused a spike in health insurance premiums for those who were able to afford to pay for health insurance.

Knight also voted to make it much more difficult for people struggling to overcome addiction to opioids. Provisions in the bill would have made “substance-abuse treatment prohibitively expensive,” according to Business Insider.

“It’s unbelievable that in the middle of a crisis our legislators would even consider reducing access to insurance for those needing treatment for substance-use disorder,” said Gary Mendell, the CEO of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit working to end the opioid crisis.

Not unbelievable for Knight, who was determined to undermine health care at every possible turn.

Those nearing retirement age did not escape health care sabotage from Knight. He backed a provision that the AARP dubbed an “age tax,” which would have allowed insurance companies to charge those aged 50-64 even more for health insurance.

Under the ACA, insurance companies were capped at charging this population three times more than younger people. But Knight wanted to let big insurance companies raise that to five times as much, essentially increasing the cost of health insurance for millions of families coming up on retirement age.

The bill also targeted individuals with pre-existing conditions. While the ACA created robust protections for cancer survivors, asthma patients, and those who have suffered from depression, Knight wanted to pull the rug out from under them. Under his preferred plan, insurance companies would have been able to charge those with pre-existing conditions up to thousands of dollar more for coverage every year.

Despite all the negative consequences of his vote, Knight told constituents that he had no regrets over his vote. No regrets about trying to rip health care away from millions, or allowing insurance companies to charge cancer survivors sky-high premiums.

Some of his constituents wanted to be sure to remind residents of Knight’s position on pre-existing conditions, so they erected a billboard highlighting it.

Mere days before Congress left town to allow members to campaign for the midterm election, Knight claims to have had a sudden change of heart. At the last moment, Knight sent out a flashy press release about a bill he introduced to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

Knight joins a cadre of vulnerable Republican incumbents desperate to convince voters that, despite an extensive record of devastatingly harmful health care votes, they are all of a sudden on their side.

Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and host of “Morning Joe”, said Republicans like Knight were “lying through their teeth.”

The general public isn’t buying it either: They overwhelmingly trust Democrats to protect their access to health care, over Republicans.

Unfortunately for Knight, voters consistently say that health care is a top issue in this election.

In one of the most closely watched races in the country, Knight’s future as a member of Congress could come down to whether people believe what he says on health care, or his many votes on the topic.