The battle over health care officially begins tomorrow when VP-elect Pence meets with Congressional Republicans to strategize about their “repeal and delay” plans and President Obama meets with Congressional Democrats about how to defend Obamacare.
As this battle unfolds, it might be helpful to keep in mind what Republicans have promised with regards to their plans. Steve Benen provided a good run-down today.
* Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC today: “We don’t want anyone who currently has insurance to not have insurance. Also, we are very aware that the public likes coverage for pre-existing conditions.”
* Kellyanne Conway on the Today Show: Trump “is committed to retaining those pieces [of the Affordable Care Act] that his advisers will say are working.”
* House Speaker Paul Ryan on 60 Minutes: “We will give everyone access to affordable health-care coverage,” and added that protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions is “a very important feature of any health-care system.”
* House Speaker Paul Ryan to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: the Republican approach will make sure that “no one is left out in the cold” and “no one is worse off.”
In order to judge whether or not the promise that “no one will be worse off” is kept, let’s review what Obamacare (the bill they intend to repeal) provides.
- 20 million people have access to affordable coverage via the exchanges and Medicaid expansion.
- You cannot be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
- Medicare spending was reduced by $802 billion over 10 years.
- Obamacare closed the Medicare prescription drug donut hole by 2020.
- Regardless of whether your health insurance is via your employer, Medicare, Medicaid, the exchanges, or the individual market, you have access to free preventative services – including annual exam, birth control and screenings for breast and colorectal cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
- Children under 26 years of age can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan.
- There are no annual or lifetime limits on what insurance plans will cover.
- If insurers charge more than 15% for overhead/profit (20% on the individual market), they are required to provide you with a refund.
- Women cannot be charged more for insurance than men.
Those are just the benefits that will be most obvious to Americans. If Republicans are to keep their promise that “no one will be worse off,” they will have to develop a replacement that at least accomplishes all of those things. I have two responses to that: (1) We’re going to hold you accountable for your promises, and (2) Good luck with that!