They Are Coming for Your Health Insurance

Well, not actually yours. Readers of this blog probably get their health insurance through employers. But millions of other Americans are at risk. I warned about this on March 26 in a post entitled “When You Rest on Your Laurels, You Become a Stationary Target.” Now a major Washington Post story by Robert Costa and Paige Cunningham, who usually get this stuff right, states that “Freedom Caucus leaders near deal on health-care plan.” http://wapo.st/2q5zRlF

It appears that the essence of the deal being negotiated will make it appear that the Affordable Health Care provisions on essential benefits will remain intact, while permitting any state to seek individual waivers to enable them to eliminate those benefits for insured people in that state. Moreover, while insurers would still be required to cover people with preexisting conditions, the insurers would be empowered to charge those people higher premiums.

One of the more telling observations reported in this story is this:

“Top GOP aides said that text of the new bill probably won’t be posted until House Republicans feel confident that they have enough votes to pass the bill.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up. The apparent plan is to negotiate the terms in secret, subject to the inevitable leaks by negotiators who love seeing their names in print, and then bring the bill to the floor for a quickie vote.

In another post, on March 24, I asked the question: “What is the Democratic Alternative to the American Health Care Act?” Still waiting. If the Republicans are successful in this latest maneuver, it will, of course, be up to the Senate, where, one hopes, something resembling a superior alternative will be put up by the Democratic leadership. Otherwise, the Democrats play the role of the Party of No and likely lose the fight.

One final, for now, observation. There should be no mistaking what the Republicans are up to with this new scheme. Turning over the question of benefits coverage to the states and letting the insurers charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions will have several virtually certain effects:

  • Republican-dominated states will rush to screw over consumers by reducing the mandatory benefits coverages (why else are they so anxious to turn this issue over to the states?)
  • In many states, patients with the worst medical problems will be priced out of the insurance market altogether
  • Because of the effects of gerrymandering, the realization of populations in Red states that they have been “had” by the Republican-dominated Congress and their choice of President will have little effect
  • Contributions from insurance companies to Republican politicians supporting this emasculation of the medically-suffering population will reflect the companies’ gratitude

There is, of course, still the possibility that the malodorous negotiations will fail to satisfy the far-right or the “moderates” and no bill will be brought to the floor. But little is being heard from the opposition to these moves. Time will shortly tell. I continue to ask: where is the Democratic alternative?

P.S. It has also been reported that the Republicans like an amendment to their new version of health care insurance that exempts Congressmen and their staffs from being subjected to a state waiver of essential benefits! http://bit.ly/2q3pONP  Nice. Always watching out for the little guy. Makes your heart swell with patriotic pride.

 

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