The new House Democratic majority is bringing to the floor a resolution on Wednesday seeking to intervene in Texas’ Obamacare lawsuit. The House already voted to approve the legal intervention, as part of the rules package approved on the first day of the new Congress Thursday, but Democrats are making the House vote on the subject again, solely as a political stunt.
I have previously discussed what the media won’t tell you about the pre-existing condition provisions—that approval of these Obamacare “protections” drops precipitously when people are asked if they support the provisions even if they would cause premiums to go up. I have also outlined how a Gallup poll released just last month shows how all groups of Americans—including Democrats and senior citizens—care more about rising premiums than about losing their coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
Bill Clinton Got This One Right
But perhaps the most articulate explanation of the problem comes from none other than Bill Clinton, Democrats’ “explainer-in-chief.” A few weeks before the 2016 election, he gave a speech on behalf of his wife’s presidential candidacy in which he said the following about Obamacare:
The current system works fine if you’re eligible for Medicaid, if you’re a lower income working person, if you’re already on Medicare, or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income that you can afford your health care. But the people that are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies. Why? Because they’re not organized, they don’t have any bargaining power with insurance companies, and they’re getting whacked. So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.
Why did people “who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half”? Because of the pre-existing condition provisions in Obamacare.
Clinton knew of which he spoke. Premiums more than doubled from 2013 to 2017 for Obamacare-compliant individual coverage, only to rise another 30 percent in 2018. A Heritage Foundation paper just last March concluded that the pre-existing condition provisions—which allow anyone to sign up for coverage at the same rate, even after he or she develops a costly medical condition—represented the largest driver of premium increases due to Obamacare.
We’ve seen the results. Largely due to these continued premium increases, 2.5 million people who do not qualify for subsidies dropped their Obamacare plans from 2017 to 2018. Thanks to Obamacare’s “protections,” these individuals now have zero coverage if they develop a pre-existing condition.
The Congressional Budget Office concluded that the law would reduce the labor supply by the equivalent of 2.5 million workers. Because so many people cannot afford their Obamacare coverage without a subsidy now that the law has caused premiums to skyrocket, millions of Americans are working fewer hours and earning less income precisely to ensure they maintain access to those subsidies. Obamacare has effectively raised their taxes by taking away their subsidies if they earn additional income, so they have decided not to work as hard.
Why Do Republicans Support This ‘Crazy’ Scheme?
Given this dynamic—skyrocketing premiums, millions dropping coverage, taxes on success—you would think that Republicans would oppose the status quo on pre-existing conditions, and all the damage it has wrought. But no.
Last Thursday, in seeking to inoculate themselves from the political effects of Democrat messaging on the issue, leaders in the minority offered a procedural motion that amounted to a Constructive Republican Alternative Proposal (which has a snappy acronym). If adopted (thankfully, it wasn’t), the motion would have instructed congressional committees to report legislation that:
Guarantees no American citizen can be charged higher premiums or cost sharing as the result of a previous illness or health status, thus ensuring affordable health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: As a matter of policy, any proposal that retains the status quo on pre-existing conditions by definition cannot repeal Obamacare. In essence, this Republican proposal amounted to a plan to “replace” Obamacare with the Affordable Care Act.
Even more to the point: What’s a good definition for a plan that charges everyone the exact same amount for health coverage? How about “I’ll take ‘Socialized Medicine’ for $800, Alex”?
There are better, and more effective, ways to handle the problem of pre-existing conditions than Obamacare. I’ve outlined several of them in these pages of late. But if Republicans insist on ratifying Obama’s scheme of socialized medicine, then they are—to use Bill Clinton’s own words—doing “the craziest thing in the world.”