Something very dangerous is going on in America: People are taking Republicans’ concern trolling about health care seriously.
Of course, I have a lot of sympathy for people who are finding that their health insurance plans are cancelled and they’ll have to pay more to get the coverage they have.
But I have no sympathy for those who are pretending this wasn’t happening before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law.
“Back then, anecdotes about people who were denied coverage abounded,” The National Journal‘s Lucia Graves wrote in her excellent piece examining pre-ACA health care in America. “They included this 12-year-old boy who died in 2007 from an abscessed tooth after his family’s Medicaid lapsed. And this 17-year-old boy whose insurance was revoked after he tested positive for HIV. This woman who was denied coverage for breast cancer because she wasn’t diagnosed at the correct clinic. And this woman whose double mastectomy was denied after her insurance company learned she had visited a dermatologist for acne treatment the year before. Ah, yes, those were the days!”
Many of the plans people are losing because of the ACA are junk. But some were good plans that insurance companies just didn’t want to offer any more, often because they didn’t want their generous benefits open to people with pre-existing conditions. Some companies are leaving states entirely for business reasons.
“I think there needs to be great emphasis that plans are not being canceled because of ACA requirements,” said Jon Gabel, a senior fellow at the University of Chicago’s Health Care Research Department. “They’re being canceled because insurers do not want to ‘grandfather’ some plans.”
The law attempted to mitigate this from happening but you can’t stop insurers from cancelling policies, unless you want to fully nationalize health care. Still Republicans are feigning anger the president didn’t tell the truth. He couldn’t promise that all Americans would keep the plans they had when the ACA passed. And now 3% of the insured in America who are losing their policies may possibly have to pay more for new policies.
But what is the GOP offering other than anger — repeal. They’d like us to go back in time to when insurance premiums and employee contributions both went up by more than 170%.
In the pre-ACA world, you could be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition and possibly have your plan rescinded if you didn’t meet strict guidelines.
I have great sympathy for those who are now in doubt and possibly unable to use HealthCare.gov to find their new plan as quickly as they’d like. (And I get the irony of a man who became president largely because of the Internet now seeing his signature accomplishment threatened by a website.)
But I have no sympathy for Republicans who pretend to care about the uninsured, while denying health insurance to 5 million poor Americans Medicaid expansion that will fully subsidized by the federal government for 3 years and about 90% subsidized thereafter.
I have sympathy for those who feel the president promised them that he could control the profit motives of insurance companies as they transitioned to the ACA. He couldn’t then but his promises are creating a far more stable, humane health care system than the cobbled together Frankenstein’s monster that was health care in America before the ACA.
But Republicans complaining about lies are like flies complaining about poop.
Forget that their last nominee for president set off a prairie fire of “pants on fires.” Forget that their entire 2010 campaign for the House was based on opposing Medicare cuts that they later tried to adopt. You can even forget the Iraq War and the failed promises of the Bush tax cuts.
Most of the arguments Republicans have made against the ACA have been lies. And worse, they did nothing to fix “the problems” they’re pointing out when they had the Congress and the presidency. The only “serious” alternative to the ACA they’ve offered would keep our system broken and possibly make it worse.
Republicans pretend to care about the economy while engineering a government shutdown that took $24 billion of it. They pretend to care about regulations while shoveling them on people trying to vote and women trying to make their own medical situations. And they pretend to care about health insurance while plotting to take it away from tens of millions.
But I’m willing to make a deal for the GOP: Pass a health care plan that lets everyone keep their insurance without ever paying more and I’ll take you seriously. Or if you can’t do that, just skip your next pretend repeal, which would cancel up to 137 million Americans’ insurance, and pass any health care reform plan.