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Jason Lewis: A Partisan Defense Of His UGLY Health Care Vote

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 05/13/17 15:24, Edited: 05/13/17 15:25

by Dave Mindeman

Jason Lewis defended his health care vote...not in front of his constituents but in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It was titled:

Jason Lewis: Challenge these myths about the GOP health care bill

OK, let's discus his challenge.

1. Myth #1: Obamacare is working.

Really? How bad does it have to get for some in the media to finally shed their partisan defense of this failed experiment in government-controlled health care? Obamacare is collapsing all around us with average premiums rising by double digits nationwide.

He uses the term "partisan defense"...which should clue you in right away that Lewis considers this political rather than really about health care. But let's discuss Obamacare. Premiums have been in flux ever since Obamacare went into place. Insurers did not know how the marketplace would shake out. Many opted with a very optimistic view and were burned by the obvious increase in people with higher care maintenance - something they should have known because they were the ones denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But CNN Money put it this way:

Many, though not all, insurers have finally figured out how much to charge for coverage on the exchanges, said Paul Lambdin, who leads Deloitte Consulting's exchange practice for health plans. They are now on firmer footing after instituting big rate hikes for this year.

Yeah, those hikes were large - especially in the individual market - but it was more or less a return to the persistent health care increases that were pre-Obamacare. The big advantage is that Obamacare added a huge increase in the number of people covered. So, not working? Depends on your "partisan" view.

Myth #2: The AHCA denies pre-existing conditions.

Not only does the bill contain guaranteed-issue protections, it also requires guaranteed renewability. Right now, everyone is effectively priced "as if they are sick." By undoing Obamacare's price controls, the ACHA finally halts the "death spiral" of rising premiums and falling enrollment -- especially for young people. No individual can be charged more for any reason unless they stop paying their premiums. In fact, this provision is nearly identical to the continuous coverage requirement for group plans under HIPAA -- the two-decade-old law championed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

It is important to note the Kennedy Amendment. That was a guarantee of coverage that pre-dates Obamacare...and it is THE ONLY REASON that the AHCA doesn't blow up pre-existing conditions altogether. But it does damage this Obamacare guarantee. The AHCA gives states an opt-out option that can give insurers the old option to deny coverage for a pre-existing condition. They will lobby states for this because it is very profitable for them. And I expect that Red States will get the poorer coverages and Blue States will keep the Obamacare guarantees in place.

Myth #3: There's not enough money in the high-risk pools to take care of the sick.

The MacArthur/Upton Amendment adds $8 billion on top of the $130 billion available through the AHCA's "Stability" and "Invisible" risk pool programs. This reduces out-of-pocket costs like premiums, deductibles and co-pays and increases access to other services. Alaska and Maine were able to vastly improve health-care access with far less money when they were granted waivers to adopt similar high-risk pools.

It is interesting that Lewis touts "risk pools" as some kind of saving grace for the AHCA. Obamacare had those same protections in place until the GOP via Marco Rubio stripped them out....and they knew that this would cause all sorts of problems eventually. So now, Lewis is praising the GOP for reinstating something they messed up in the first place. Frankly, if the GOP would have reinstated these pools into Obamacare, this would have gone a long way to fix many of the problems that have happened within the individual market.

Myth #4: Congress has exempted itself from the AHCA

This is a doozy and one of the most duplicitous charges coming from the AHCA's harshest critics. Under 'budget reconciliation' rules in the Senate, provisions on how legislation affects members of Congress could not be included in the AHCA. There of course was never any intent to exempt Congress so Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced a simple two-page standalone bill that statutorily applied the law to all members. The measure passed the House by a vote of 429-0.

Glad Jason gives himself a pat on the back for this one, but as usual his explanation is a little too self serving. What he says here is true, yes, but the McSally proposal was instituted after numerous watch dog groups pointed out the fact that this issue existed, and long before the bill was passed. Now, who knows if they were planning to fix this all along....it is just interesting that until this was public knowledge, there was no McSally amendment.

Myth #5: The AHCA removes vital health benefits and cuts off coverage for women's services.

The ten Essential Health Benefits are now the default option in the law. States applying for a waiver must first show how their benefit requirements will increase healthcare coverage, and no state, under any circumstance, may apply for a waiver that denies dependents being included on a family plan up to age 26 or allows discrimination on the basis of gender.

The Essential Health Benefits IS the default option, but this bill would not have passed a Republican House if the "opt out" provisions had not been put in place. The decision on whether the states can mess with these provisions lies in the hands of HHS Secretary Tom Price - who has never been friendly to the Obamacare guarantees. Lewis is not giving us the whole picture here.


So there you have it. The Jason Lewis defense of his awful vote on the health care bill. It is a weak to non-existent defense, but it is worth the spin, because people are not keeping up with the facts on health care.

One more thing to point out, which is the real cause of the health care premium fluctuations....(From CNN Money)

Insurers are nervous that the Trump administration and Congress will weaken or eliminate the individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to have coverage or pay a penalty. The mandate also lures younger, healthier people to sign up for policies. Insurers depend on these folks to offset the costs of older, sicker customers.

These worries are on top of all the uncertainty over the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare in Congress. The House bill, which senators are now looking to overhaul, would radically change the individual market. Just a few of insurers' concerns: eliminating the individual mandate and cost-sharing subsidies, as well as replacing Obamacare subsidies with tax credits that are less generous for many Americans.

Two major insurance industry lobbying groups, along with organizations representing doctors, hospitals and patients, have expressed serious concerns about the bill. Among their worries is the legislation will render insurance unaffordable for millions.

When the insurance lobbyists and virtually all of the medical profession are against this bill...you have a bad bill. The fix to Obamacare would have been simpler and clearer than anything this Trumpcare travesty will do.

Thank you Jason Lewis for that AWFUL, UGLY vote...against the interests of your constituents.
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