Ayotte on Meet The Press: Do No Harm. Do Nothing for the Uninsured.

Kelly Ayotte was on Meet the Press this morning, demonstrating that, despite the ACA roll-out debacle, Republicans still have nothing to offer uninsured Americans.

Discussing health insurance plan cancellations, Ayotte said that the government should “do no harm,” quoting the Hippocratic Oath. Without offering much detail, she said a Republican alternative to the ACA would “encourage competition” by allowing insurance companies to sell their products across state lines.

But Ayotte’s harm minimization appeal is patently absurd–unless you consider a doctor doing nothing as a patient bleeds out “doing no harm.”As ThinkProgress pointed out in 2009, this sort of tack would lead to a banking-deregulation style “race to the bottom” between states–a mantra that eventually gave us trillion dollar bailouts in the industry, and consumers and businesses getting screwed over while investment banks cannibalized the productive economy. It seems reasonable to assume that total vertical integration and market concentration would follow healthcare deregulation, making insurance no less affordable to uninsured Americans, including the 45,000 who die every year because they can’t pay for it. “Do no harm,” indeed.

Ayotte’s comments came after Nancy Pelosi attempted a defense of the ACA, in spite of the headline-making annulments, and now-embarrassing soundbites from three years ago.

She was less apologetic than President Obama. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m not terribly fond of Obamacare, from a Medicare-for-all but allow the government to negotiate prices perspective. But cancellations are primarily concentrated within a segment of the industry that offers an inferior service usually jettisoned by customers after two years, anyway. It offers commodities that routinely change in the absence of mandated cancellations. It rarely makes headlines when consumers are forced to cancel plans by insurance executives, however. Cancellations are also only expected to affect 7 to 12 million people, and only temporarily (a pain that would be easier to treat if Healthcare.gov wasn’t in shambles). Not to mention that the eventual number of plan cancellations is going to pale in comparison to the 47 million under 65 year-old Americans who were uninsured last year.

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Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.