FACT CHECK: John McCain ad claims healthcare law will leave some people with no choice

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jun 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-12 01:34:47-04

Sen. John McCain has picked up his attacks on the Affordable Care Act recently, making the law synonymous with Democratic rival Ann Kirkpatrick. 

A May 17 attack ad from McCain against Kirkpatrick, who’s running for McCain’s Senate seat, is a case in point.

In addition to the claim that the healthcare law is her “proudest” vote, the ad’s on-screen text states, “30,000 Arizonans may have no choice” for healthcare coverage, citing the departure of UnitedHealthCare, the nation’s largest insurer, from the state’s marketplace.

"30,000 Arizonans may have no choice." - McCain campaign ad

We put this claim through a truth-check. 


United announced in April that it would stop Affordable Care Act coverage in Arizona - and most of the 34 states it has plans in - by year’s end.

May 11 was the deadline for health insurers to submit their 2017 Affordable Care Act state coverage plans to the federal government, which runs In eight rural Arizona counties - Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai and Yuma - only one health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, signed up to cover individuals.

People insured may vary

McCain campaign spokeswoman Lorna Romero pointed us to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data for insured people in those eight counties.

According to the data, 30,761 people across all eight counties bought coverage through the exchange as of Feb. 1, 2016.

However, Allen Gjersvig, director of Enrollment Services at Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, a umbrella group for healthcare organizations that help people sign up for coverage, said the numbers do not specifically note how many people have either United or Blue Cross.

“It’s a snapshot, we don’t know what plan they chose,” Gjersvig said.

We asked Blue Cross Blue Shield specifically how many people currently have health insurance plans - and what plans they expect to offer in 2017 - in those eight counties, but they declined to provide those details, citing the “competitive landscape.”  

“There are counties and consumers that will, as it stands right now, see only one insurance company,” Gjersvig said. “Blue Cross has filed rates for all counties in Arizona.”  

Our ruling

McCain’s campaign ad said, “30,000 Arizonans may have no choice” for Affordable Care Act coverage.

The 30,000 number is just a snapshot that could change, plus it's based on months old data.

But the ad’s claim is largely correct. In 2017, Blue Cross Blue Shield stands to be the lone health insurer for Arizonans seeking health insurance in those counties.

We rate the ad’s claim as Mostly True.


For the complete fact-check, visit our news partner, PolitiFact Arizona