Senator Kay Hagan confronts the burning question that could make or break her campaign

Senator Kay Hagan is going on the offensive.
March 1, 2014 4:32:21 AM PST
Senator Kay Hagan is going on the offensive. She is giving ABC11 the answer to the question the state GOP has been demanding for months.

Hagan says she found out "last fall" that her promise "you can keep your health coverage if you want to" was not going to hold up for everyone. That answers a key question critics have had, but it may not be enough to silence their voices.

PolitiFact called it 2013's lie of the year.

"If you have your insurance, you like your insurance, and your doctors, you keep them," said Hagan.

By the state GOP'S count, Hagan said that more than 20 times, and as recently as Friday, critics have been pressing Hagan to say when she learned the promise would not hold up.

"She's refusing to say when her promise about being able to keep your plans wasn't true," said NC GOP Chairman Claude Pope.

Two hour later, Hagan's campaign gave ABC11 the answer, last fall. In a statement, Hagan said insurance companies had three years to offer plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act, and that she did not know they kept offering plans that would be cancelled in 2014.  

She then turns the table on Republicans, charging House Speaker and primary frontrunner Thom Tillis with "not answering questions or being honest about what he would do to people's health care." That is something the North Carolina Democratic Party has been hammering Tillis on.

"The republican front-runner, Thom Tillis, is completely avoiding taking a stance on health care at all. He's says he's for some part of it but for full repeal, it's just not clear where Thom Tillis stands," said Ben Ray, with the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Pope seemed to agree that Tillis and other Republican candidates should stake out defined positions on healthcare so voters know where they stand.

"Obamacare and health care in general is a very, very important issue and we need to hear from our Republican candidates as to what their solutions are," Pope said.

However, when it comes to Hagan, it is unlikely her answer Friday will quiet Republican critics.

"If she didn't know they were false, that's a completely different issue of not being a very good senator. Not knowing what it was before she went out to make a pitch on it," Pope said.

Senator Hagan released the following statement to ABC11: "When this law was written, we established a three-year transition period so that insurance companies had time to begin offering plans that met the requirements of the law for the 5 percent of people on the individual market. As I've made clear, I didn't know that some insurance companies would use that transition period to sell outdated plans without fully notifying consumers that they would no longer be available in 2014. But as soon as it came to my attention last fall when I heard from constituents who felt blindsided by the fact that their plans were no longer available, I immediately did something about it, signing onto a bill to let people keep their plans permanently.

"I am working to fix this bill to make it better for North Carolina, and it is Thom Tillis who is not answering questions or being honest about what he would do to people's health care. Speaker Tillis would let insurance companies discriminate against preexisting conditions, charge women more for care and make seniors pay more for prescription drugs. Speaker Tillis is misleading North Carolinians about where I stand, because he knows he can't defend his own position."

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