Just when we thought the GOP health care reform was dead, Mike Pence and the Freedom Caucus are back with a revised plan to revive it and really screw sick people. The revised plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare pretends to cover those of us with preexisting conditions, by requiring we receive coverage, but the new rules make it easy for insurers to push us out of the market.

Two ObamaCare regulations would end. First, states would be allowed to opt out of essential health benefits. This means even if you have coverage, the insurance company is not required to pay for services you might need, such as hospitalization, prescriptions, maternity, emergency services, and chronic disease management. They would also have the option of charging extra for them. For example, a cancer patient might get insurance, but the policy could not cover chemotherapy or radiation. So what is the point?

Secondly, it would end the “community rating,” which dictates insurance companies charge the same rate for consumers of the same age, regardless of health. Doing away with this would make it very easy for insurance companies to price the chronically ill out of the market. There is no limit to what the insurance company could charge. Conservatives want to drive the sick out of the marketplace in order to reduce insurance costs for healthy people, rather than spread the costs among everyone.


This is in direct contradiction to a statement Pence made recently.

“We will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions so that they are not charged more or denied coverage, just because they have been sick, as long as they have paid their premiums consistently,” Pence said in November.

Their solution is the same as it was prior to ObamaCare: high-risk pools. The problem with those is the same as it was then: high costs, long waiting periods, and limited benefits. (NYT) This completely ignores the fact that the coverage of preexisting conditions is one of the most popular pieces of the ACA.
The good news is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee already has a list of 48 Republicans who pledged they would not do away with coverage for people with preexisting conditions. They are ready to go with attack ads, especially in swing districts, for 2018.
“If vulnerable House Republicans decide to resurrect a deeply unpopular repeal bill that rips insurance away from 24 million, raises costs for hardworking families, slaps an age tax on older folks, and now removes protections for pre-existing conditions,” DCCC spokesman Tyler Law said, “they should all be prepared for their constituents to send them out to pasture.” (CNN)
Also, in addition to needing to win over moderate Republicans in the House, pretty much every Republican in the Senate would have to vote for the bill for it to pass. That is as unlikely now as it was with the previous bill, if not more so. Considering one in four Americans has a preexisting condition, this is a large segment of the population that can have a significant impact at the voting booth.
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