In the wake of the “teletownhall”, where Rep. Davis again boasted of his bill that “protects those with pre-existing conditions” (a caveat: we did not waste our time listening to the noise of this propaganda exercise, so we relied on the twitter outline, provided by Rodney’s staff), it is important to return to this bill, and show how Rodney is lying through his teeth about it.
Note: The topic was discussed already during our ACA Public Forum.
The bill Rod introduced on Jan. 24th of this year, “H.R.628 – Guaranteed Health Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions Act of 2017” was quickly subsumed by another bill, “H.R.1121 – Pre-existing Conditions Protection Act of 2017” by Rep. Walden. That latter bill was clearly of more significance: 65 Representatives (all GOP) co-sponsored it. Rodney himself was among the first co-sponsors. This is the bill actually forwarded to several committees for approvals, and for all practical purposes, this is the bill Rodney is standing behind.
Now, H.R.1121 has a booby trap. Let us carefully untangle it.
H.R.1121 does talk about prohibiting the insurers to charge people within a group a different premium, depending on the person’s health status (except smoking and, to a degree, age) – this is what all Americans who get their coverage through an employer are accustomed to and expect to keep.
Note, the groups themselves might have (and do have) different premium levels: indeed, if your workforce is mostly young hackers in their twenties, your rate will be lower than if you have a more mature mix. It makes sense, if you are into that whole market equilibrium thing: insurers are allowed to hedge their actuarial risks for large groups.
OK, now all eyes on the hands: when it comes to individual market – which is what the Obamacare exchanges are addressing, – Walden’s bill does a remarkable switch: the bill stipulates to apply “in the individual market in the same manner as such provisions<…> in connection with health insurance coverage in the group market“. That means that each person coming to an exchange can be treated by an insurer as a group of one. If this group is young and healthy – premiums are low; if the group (one 52 years old self-employed contractor) has statistically significant risks (fraction of people with history of heart disease: 100%), the premium will be high. Hooray for market forces!
This vile trick is, of course, hidden in a short paragraph towards the end of the 23 page long bill. No wonder poor Rodney did not notice it: he has a mere twenty one staffers, not counting interns (most of whom are busy recording the saga of his fighting for corporate well-being on our behalf), and their combined mental power is not enough to catch this little provision.
Sarcasm aside, the hawk-eyed folks from the invaluable Health Affairs blog detected this mean trick right away, and we have been pointing that out in our phone calls to Rodney’s staff ever since. So, we discard the idea they just don’t know what’s in the bill Rodney co-sponsored.
No – Rodney is lying. He thinks this particular lie is more convincing because his wife is a cancer survivor, but it just explains why he lies with such intensity: he is just afraid lose his seat and be forced to join us in the health care marketplace the GOP is busy installing.
Don’t despair, Rod. When you are out, a government run affordable insurance plan will be available to all, even you.
This won’t stop you from lying now, we know, but at least you should not fear the future. It does not belong to you.