Campaigns collide at Arms Park

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Messner supporters at the Shaheen Press Conference on Wednesday. Credit/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Normally political rallies do not happen at the same time as press conferences, particularly between competing campaigns. However, Wednesday was not a normal day at Arms Park.

As several supporters of U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen shared their stories about pre-existing conditions and accused Republican Senate Nominee Corky Messner of denying the existence of pre-existing conditions, a group of Messner supporters arrived and began to chant slogans of support for Messner and other Republicans.

The Messner supporters arrived approximately halfway through the Shaheen press conference and held signs approximately 20 to 40 feet away from the Shaheen event, making it difficult to hear the Shaheen supporters speak.

Messner arrived after the conclusion of the Shaheen event and talked to his supporters about the issue of healthcare.

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Corky Messner on Oct. 14, 2020. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Messner said he was unaware of the Shaheen event, a claim that New Hampshire Democratic Party Spokesperson Noelle Rosellini found dubious.

“I think that it’s quite the value statement on Corky Messner’s part that he supports shouting down parents who are worried about their kids’ healthcare, shouting down a woman who had seizures and relies on the Affordable Care Act for protections and harassing people who simply want their pre-existing conditions to be covered,” said Rosellini. “Doing something like this just shows the type of person he is and the lack of representation that Granite Staters want that he would provide.”

The press conference came in part due to Messner’s statement regarding pre-existing conditions at last week’s debate between Shaheen and Messner in North Conway. There, he made comment that Democrats construed as a Messner’s denial of the existence of pre-existing conditions. In turn, Messner said at Arms Park that those attacks deliberately misinterpreted his statement, which he has stated was simply terminology.

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A sign of Messner’s statement from the debate. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Messner also disputed claims by Democrats that approximately 570,000 Granite Staters have some sort of pre-existing condition.

In his statements, Messner supported government regulation to prevent discrimination of pre-existing conditions by healthcare insurance companies, but felt that the Affordable Care Act’s online healthcare marketplace was an inappropriate role for government.

Messner also believed that tort reform and allowing health insurance companies to expand insurer pools across state lines would also help reduce healthcare costs.

He added that due to his lack of history in politics, he would be able remain independent while creating new legislation regarding lowering healthcare costs, but could not provide details on how he could succeed while other outsiders have failed in the past. Messner also did not comment on the lack of alternative proposals to the Affordable Care Act by Congressional Republicans, instead pointing to recent executive orders by President Trump relating to cost transparency and preserving safeguards for those as pre-existing conditions as his guidance.

Shaheen supporters feared what might happen if provisions to protect those with pre-existing conditions found in the Affordable Care Act were repealed either by Congress or during a hearing in the Supreme Court scheduled for just after the election.

Jacqui Silvani shared the story of her eight-year-old son’s bout with cancer. Amy Franklin shared the story of how her life as a high school student was disrupted by sudden epilepsy. State Representative Pat Long (D-Manchester) shared stories they have heard from those who decided to avoid necessary healthcare procedures prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Long added that if pre-existing conditions are no longer covered, those who have been exposed to COVID-19 in recent months may be added to the list of those unable to find healthcare coverage.

Dr. Chelsey Lewis said before the Affordable Care Act she saw patients avoid obtaining needed medical attention due to a lack of insurance or fear of healthcare costs, someone she believes would escalate once again if the Affordable Care Act is dismantled.

Lewis added that healthcare premiums remain a problem even with the Affordable Care Act, but having some kind of healthcare coverage provides a safety net for those in need.

“If pre-existing conditions are not covered, people are not going to go to their doctor when they need to see their doctor. Their conditions will reach an end stage and they’ll end up in the emergency room,” said Lewis.

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Dr. Chelsey Lewis at the podium at Arms Park on Oct. 14, 2020. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.