Pre-Existing Conditions: The Tiniest Third Rail

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 13 2011 1:24 PM

Pre-Existing Conditions: The Tiniest Third Rail

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Tim Pawlenty had a hungry press corps to himself this morning (I counted three reporters from the Washington Post , alone) when he toured Next Step Orthotics & Prosthetics, which fits amputees for all matter of artificial limbs. The former governor met a Vietnam veteran who was fitted with legs that let him race on a treadmill, and watched another amputee demonstrate a bluetooth-reliant arm and hand that moved with small commands from his legs. He also met Carter Mead, who scampered around the facility with prosthetics that had race car-worthy flames drawn on them. His mother, Kelli, said he was born with four limb defects, had been fitted at a young age, and really loved what he was getting.

Of course, limb defects are pre-existing conditions. Mead wondered aloud whether it was such a good idea to repeal, flat-out, the Affordable Care Act, what with its ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Dissent at a campaign event! How would Pawlenty respond? Pretty painlessly, actually.

"I've said many times that I hope one thing everyone can agree on is pre-existing conditions," said Pawlenty to reporters after the event. So the ban wasn't one of his problems with the PPACA? "No."

It wasn't a problem that other amputees had, either. I talked briefly to Bob Wilson, who works with the Amputee Golf Association, and works with Next Step to meet new amputees and tell them what their options are. "They see me walk in the room," he said, pointing to his extremely flexible prosthetics, "and they see they'll be okay."

What did he think of PPACA? "Flush it," he said. "I don't even want to know what other crap is in there. I wouldn't be surprised if they sneaked a gun ban in there."

"We've gotta get off of this goddamn welfare state," he continued. "I don't give a crap how. We've got to do it."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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