GOPocrisy, pure and simple
Michigan Republicans are still working to demonize the Affordable Care Act in any way they can. The most recent example is a bill reported out of the House Subcommittee on Insurance last week, H.B. 4816, which was introduced by Rep. Mike Shirkey. The bill, which you can read HERE (pdf), requires health insurers to report to their customers which part of their premium is due to the ACA.
Here’s the bill’s language (which differs somewhat from the original bill introduced in June):
By March 1, 2014 and annually after 2014 through December 31, 2018, an insurer or health maintenance organization shall communicate to policyholders or subscribers in written or electronic format an estimate of the impact on policy premiums, by business line, that is attributable to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, Public Law 111-152, including but not limited to, taxes, assessments, and other requirements of that Act. The insurer or health maintenance organization shall include the following statement with the estimate required under this section: “This portion of the premium is attributable to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and not the enactment of any laws, rules, or regulations of the Michigan Governor, the Michigan legislature, or Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services.”.
See what they did there? They want to be sure nobody ever blames them for increased costs. And they give the insurance companies free rein to decide what portion of their premiums to assign to the ACA. Now, if you’re someone like Amy here at Eclectablog, your premium will actually DECREASE. No need for them to mention that in Shirkey’s bill.
UPDATE: I should clarify that Amy’s savings of $10,000 annually thanks to the ACA is due to her purchasing a new health care policy from her insurer, not because her current policy went down in cost. That almost never happens. It was only because she was able to purchase it through the exchange as part of a larger pool of insurance buyers that she was able to save so much money and she has the ACA to thank for that.
As everyone knows, health insurance premiums on average have gone in cost up every year for decades. As I have pointed out in the past, the rate at which they have gone up has actually decreased under President Obama, but they still go up thanks to inflation, the rising cost of health care, and profit-taking by insurance companies. This is the most diabolical part of this legislation actually: almost no insurance premium EVER goes down, before the ACA or otherwise. So all HB 4816 does is focus on policies that people keep from year to year which almost invariably rise in cost.
Democrats introduced an amendment to the bill that would also require the insurers to let you know the extra benefits you’re getting thanks to Obamacare. Naturally, Republicans shot that down because this bill is about one thing and one thing only: convincing you that the ACA is making your life worse.
If this bill passes, the only stories we’ll hear about in the news are those about people with increases in their premiums and nothing about improved coverage or lower premiums. Those won’t be reported. It’s hypocrisy for them to require only the premium increases to be reported and it shows them for the partisan hacks that they are.
Worse yet, they are lying about it. Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons told the Detroit Free Press this lie:
“It sheds light on the issue and it lets consumers exactly know what they’re paying for,” she said.
Nice try, Ms. Lyons. If what you said were true, you have accepted the Democrats’ amendment. You did not.
It’s also worth noting that Rep. Shirkey was one of a handful of Republicans who helped ensure that Medicaid expansion passed in Michigan. This bill is clearly an attempt to absolve himself of this “sin” in the eyes of his tea party constituents who are still fuming mad about our working poor getting any sort of help with their health care in Michigan. I don’t see it working, frankly. The tea party types won’t be so easily pacified and those of us who support Obamacare can see right through his charade.
The bill now goes to the full House and I have little doubt they will pass it. It serves no useful purpose but something tells me it will somehow also end up on Governor Snyder’s agenda if it passes the Senate, too, which it undoubtedly will.