To hear Republican candidates tell it, they are fully on board with the Affordable Care Act’s protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. Donald Trump, in particular, tells his Nuremberg-style campaign rallies that Republicans will always protect people with pre-existing conditions, but the evidence doesn’t support his message.
Steve Benen makes a good catch on a little-reported news item from Monday that undermines this Big Lie. On pre-existing protections, watch what the GOP does (not what it says):
By any sane measure, the argument is indefensible. Not only have these GOP politicians spent years trying to tear them down, they’re also championing a lawsuit that would strip millions of families of the protections Republicans now pretend to support.
As Benen has previously noted:
There’s currently a Republican lawsuit pending in federal court that’s trying to tear down the ACA’s existing protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Trump not only refused to defend the current law in court, he also endorsed the litigation that would undermine Americans’ health security.
But the lie runs deeper. Trump’s agenda includes pushing short-term plans, which not only undermine the marketplace, they also allow insurers to sell plans that – you guessed it – don’t fully protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.
Back to his post:
But as we were reminded yesterday, that’s not they’re doing. The New York Times reported Trump Officials Make It Easier for States to Skirt Health Law’s Protections:
The Trump administration announced a new policy on Monday making it easier for states to circumvent coverage requirements and consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.
States could, for example, use federal funds to subsidize short-term insurance plans with skimpy benefits and fewer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Coming two weeks before Election Day, the new policy appeared to be a political gift to Democrats, who are making health care a potent campaign theme.
As is usually the case, the details get a little complicated, but at issue are the ACA “1332 waivers,” which allow states to implement their own reforms, each of which must meet minimum standards established under “Obamacare.”
These new developments have the effect of encouraging states to exploit the policy and, as a Vox.com report put it, “set up their own alternatives to the health care law.”
The HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn added that the newly announced rule change “almost certainly means that, overall, people with serious medical problems are likely to have a harder time finding coverage – and, ultimately, paying their medical bills.”
Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, told Cohn, “This new guidance allows states to set up parallel insurance markets that may be able to attract healthy people with plans that have lower premiums but fewer consumer protections, leaving ACA plans with a sicker pool and higher premiums.”
As a policy matter, the result is a weaker system that’s most likely to hurt – you guessed it – those with pre-existing conditions.
But as a political matter, the announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services, two weeks before the congressional midterm elections, offers Democrats a cudgel with which to beat Republicans. Indeed, Trump and his team just handed Dems a new talking point: if you ignore what Republicans say and focus on what they do, you’ll see they’re taking dramatic steps to hurt the Americans they claim to support.
And when Democrats make this argument, it will have the added benefit of being true.
At this point, if you believe anything a Republican candidate is saying about healthcare you are a damn fool. Their actions speak louder than words, and their words are all lies. If healthcare is important to you and your family, you simply cannot vote for a Republican. Period. It really is just this simple a choice.