MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tough new ads from an independent outside political group make a serious claim.

They say hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans could lose their health insurance if Republican Jeff Johnson becomes governor.

Is that true?

The ads from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota feature Louise, with a serious illness.

“I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015,” she says.

And Stacey, facing financial hardship as her husband is being treated for ALS.

“If Jeff Johnson was governor, I don’t know how we could afford this,” says Stacy.

But this claim in the ABM ad caught our attention:

“300,000 Minnesotans will lose their health insurance under Jeff Johnson,” the ad claims. “And insurance companies could deny coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Jeff Johnson calls that “a blatant lie.”

“It’s pathetic this organization is so dishonest about such an important issue to Minnesotans,” Johnson said in a written statement. “I’ve been consistently clear that Minnesota will always cover those with pre-existing conditions, just as we have for decades. Unlike my opponent, though, I actually believe we should foster more competition and choice for those who pay for their own insurance to bring down the ridiculous premium hikes we’ve seen under MNSure.”

In a new ad, Johnson promises coverage for pre-existing conditions.

“I see a much brighter future for Minnesota,” Johnson says in the ad, “where we lower health care costs with competition and choice.”

Both of these claims cannot be true.

Pre-existing conditions are either covered, or they are not. Here’s what we know…

Johnson promises:

– To seek federal permission to quit Obamacare in Minnesota.

– Bring back a state high-risk pool called MCHA, the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Act, covering patients with pre-existing conditions.

– And allow out-of-state insurance companies to sell policies across state lines in Minnesota.

Health care experts say it could have unintended consequences.

The Minnesota Department of Health, the Congressional Budget Office and the Kaiser Family Foundation agree: Monthly premiums for healthy people could drop under the Johnson plan, but premiums for sick people could rise — up to 25 percent.

The higher cost and program restrictions could force patients to drop insurance, perhaps up to 300,000 in the worst-case scenarios.

And insurance companies would not be required to cover all pre-existing conditions, which is required under the Affordable Care Act.

So…. when the ad claims, “300,000 Minnesotans will lose their health insurance under Jeff Johnson.”

The estimate is high, but it’s possible as many as eight million people nationwide could drop their coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

And this?

“And insurance companies could deny coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Health care experts say that’s true. That’s a Reality Check.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check.

Johnson Health Care Plan

Kaiser Family Foundation

Improving Health Care Coverage, Pre-Existing Conditions

Non-Elderly Adults With Declinable Pre-Existing Conditions

Congressional Budget Office: Cost Estimates, Consequences of GOP Health Care Bill

Minnesota Health Department Policy Paper: MN Comprehensive Health Association

Pre-Existing Conditions: Will You Pay More?

Returning To High Risk Insurance Pools

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