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“Weight Loss, No Exercise”: Four Years Later, The Second Half Of The Republican “Repeal And Replace” Plan

At his press conference late last week, President Obama chided congressional Republicans for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act several dozen times without offering a credible alternative. “They used to say they had a replacement,” he told reporters. “That never actually arrived, right? I mean, I’ve been hearing about this whole replacement thing for two years — now I just don’t hear about it, because basically they don’t have an agenda to provide health insurance to people at affordable rates.”

Au contraire, Republicans responded.

The 173-member strong Republican Study Committee is on track to roll out legislation this fall that would replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act with a comprehensive alternative, Chairman Steve Scalise told CQ Roll Call on Thursday.

Though it wouldn’t be the first Obamacare repeal-and-replace proposal floated by individual GOP lawmakers in either chamber of Congress, the RSC bill is one that could at least gain traction on the House floor, given the conservative group’s size and influence.

Oh good, it only took four years for House Republicans to come up with a health care plan they like.

So, what’s in it? No one outside the Republican Study Committee actually knows, and even the RSC isn’t altogether sure since the plan isn’t finished. But Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who chairs the RSC, insists some of the popular provisions in “Obamacare” will remain intact, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“We address that to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be discriminated against,” he told Roll Call. But, he promised the bill would not “put in place mandates that increase the costs of health care and push people out of the insurance that they like,” Scalise said.

In related news, the Republican Study Committee has a weight-loss plan in which everyone eats all the deserts they want and never exercises.

Look, it’s extremely difficult to craft a health care system that protects people with pre-existing conditions while eliminating mandates, scrapping industry regulations, and keeping costs down. Indeed, it’s why Republicans came up with mandates in the first place — the mandates were seen as the lynchpin that made their larger reform efforts work.

Indeed, it’s partly why Democrats used to push so hard to see the GOP alternative. Dems assumed, correctly, that once Republicans got past their talking points and chest-thumping, they’d see that actually solving the problem required provisions that some folks wouldn’t like.

But let’s not pre-judge, right? Maybe the right-wing members of the Republican Study Committee have figured out a creative way to help those who can’t afford coverage and protect those with pre-existing conditions and reduce health care costs and cut the costs for prescription medication and cover preventive care and cut the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars — just like the Affordable Care Act does. What’s more, maybe they’ll do all of this without raising taxes and/or including elements in the plan that are unpopular.

I seriously doubt it, but I suppose it’s possible.

What seems more likely to me, though, is that the Republican Study Committee will eventually finish and unveil their “Obamacare” alternative and invite side-by-side comparisons between the two approaches — which will in turn make the Affordable Care Act look even better.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 13, 2013

August 19, 2013 Posted by | Health Reform | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Walking Back Another Lie”: Romney Health Care Debate Claim Gets Corrected By His Own Staff

Independent fact checkers have not been particularly kind to Mitt Romney since Wednesday’s first presidential debate in Denver. But one of the candidate’s claims turned out to be so far off the mark that he had to be corrected by his own aides — a fact not unnoticed by the Obama campaign.

Romney’s claim was this, part of what turned out to be a highly detailed discussion of health care: “No. 1, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.”

By pre-existing conditions, Romney was talking about the ability for people who already have medical problems — diabetes, for example, or even things like allergies — to buy health insurance. Starting in 2014, the federal Affordable Care Act says insurance companies can no longer reject people with bad health histories — nor can they charge them more.

That’s already true in Massachusetts under the law Romney signed as governor. But Romney’s current plan for the nation, should he be elected president, wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that same protection.

“Actually, governor, that isn’t what your plan does,” President Obama told Romney at the debate Wednesday. “What your plan does is to duplicate what’s already the law.”

The president was referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. It’s a 1996 law that says, among other things, that once you have health insurance you can continue to purchase it, as long as there’s no interruption in your coverage of more than 63 days.

But Romney’s plan wouldn’t guarantee that people who don’t have coverage now will be able to buy it. Top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said as much in the so-called spin room to several reporters right after the debate, and again on Thursday on CNN.

“The governor will repeal Obamacare and he will return to the states the power to control their own health care futures,” Fehrnstrom told Wolf Blitzer. “Look, what works in Massachusetts may not work in Texas. It was wrong for the president to take the broad outlines of the Massachusetts plan and impose it as a dictate from Washington on every state in the nation.”

That correction was gladly picked up by the Obama forces. At a rally Friday in Northern Virginia, Obama took credit for one of the few times he actually called Romney out during the debate.

“Gov. Romney was fact checked by his own campaign. That’s rough,” the president told a cheering crowd at George Mason University. “Even they know his plan would take away coverage for tens of millions of Americans.”

This isn’t the first time a Romney statement has had to be walked back by his staff when it comes to health care. In recent weeks he’s misstated or switched positions on abortion and on Medicaid. But at 67 million viewers, this was by far the largest audience that’s heard something different from what the candidate’s position actually is.

 

By: Julie Rovner, NPR, October 6, 2012

October 7, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Romney’s Sick Joke”: An Attempt To Deceive Voters On His Healthcare Proposal

“No. 1,” declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate, “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” No, they aren’t — as Mr. Romney’s own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate.

Was Mr. Romney lying? Well, either that or he was making what amounts to a sick joke. Either way, his attempt to deceive voters on this issue was the biggest of many misleading and/or dishonest claims he made over the course of that hour and a half. Yes, President Obama did a notably bad job of responding. But I’ll leave the theater criticism to others and talk instead about the issue that should be at the heart of this election.

So, about that sick joke: What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job — as long as they keep paying the premiums. As it happens, this is already the law of the land. But it’s not what anyone in real life means by having a health plan that covers pre-existing conditions, because it applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job). Did I mention that the number of jobs that come with health insurance has been steadily declining over the past decade?

What Mr. Romney did in the debate, in other words, was, at best, to play a word game with voters, pretending to offer something substantive for the uninsured while actually offering nothing. For all practical purposes, he simply lied about what his policy proposals would do.

How many Americans would be left out in the cold under Mr. Romney’s plan? One answer is 89 million. According to the nonpartisan Commonwealth Foundation, that’s the number of Americans who lack the “continuous coverage” that would make them eligible for health insurance under Mr. Romney’s empty promises. By the way, that’s more than a third of the U.S. population under 65 years old.

Another answer is 45 million, the estimated number of people who would have health insurance if Mr. Obama were re-elected, but would lose it if Mr. Romney were to win.

That estimate reflects two factors. First, Mr. Romney proposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, which means doing away with all the ways in which that law would help tens of millions of Americans who either have pre-existing conditions or can’t afford health insurance for other reasons. Second, Mr. Romney is proposing drastic cuts in Medicaid — basically to save money that he could use to cut taxes on the wealthy — which would deny essential health care to millions more Americans. (And, no, despite what he has said, you can’t get the care you need just by going to the emergency room.)

Wait, it gets worse. The true number of victims from Mr. Romney’s health proposals would be much larger than either of these numbers, for a couple of reasons.

One is that Medicaid doesn’t just provide health care to Americans too young for Medicare; it also pays for nursing care and other necessities for many older Americans.

Also, many Americans have health insurance but live under the continual threat of losing it. Obamacare would eliminate this threat, but Mr. Romney would bring it back and make it worse. Safety nets don’t just help people who actually fall, they make life more secure for everyone who might fall. But Mr. Romney would take that security away, not just on health care but across the board.

What about the claim made by a Romney adviser after the debate that states could step in to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions? That’s nonsense on many levels. For one thing, Mr. Romney wants to eliminate restrictions on interstate insurance sales, depriving states of regulatory power. Furthermore, if all you do is require that insurance companies cover everyone, healthy people will wait until they’re sick to sign up, leading to sky-high premiums. So you need to couple regulations on insurers with a requirement that everyone have insurance. And, to make that feasible, you have to offer insurance subsidies to lower-income Americans, which have to be paid for at a federal level.

And what you end up with is — precisely — the health reform President Obama signed into law.

One could wish that Mr. Obama had made this point effectively in the debate. He had every right to jump up and say, “There you go again”: Not only was Mr. Romney’s claim fundamentally dishonest, it has already been extensively debunked, and the Romney campaign itself has admitted that it’s false.

For whatever reason, the president didn’t do that, on health care or on anything else. But, as I said, never mind the theater criticism. The fact is that Mr. Romney tried to mislead the public, and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, October 4, 2012

October 7, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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