Health Care Fail

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The Senate GOP health care bill is dead.

Planned Parenthood is cheering.

Meanwhile, insurers continue to abandon markets. Medicaid is sprinting toward insolvency, and the disastrous Obamacare law continues to leave Catholic families in the lurch.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED? Senate Republicans were split on the best solution to “replace” Obamacare. Hold outs Mike Lee and Rand Paul joined pro-abortion Republicans to oppose the most recent Senate bill. As a result, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was forced last night to abandon the effort and instead called for a simple “repeal.” But this plan was (predictably) torpedoed by three Republican moderates.

Of course, the media largely ignored the 48 Democrats that chose to play politics with our healthcare and refused to offer any alternative plan or negotiate with Republicans.

The truth: Democrats were united. Republicans were not.

You angry yet?

There’s plenty of blame to spread around. But one aspect of this debate deserves mention. Recall that when House Republicans rushed to pass a substantive, but imperfect first bill last month, our Bishops called the bill “very troubling.”

Senate Republicans then started from scratch and wrote a new bill. Again, the Bishops deemed the bill “harmful” and called “unconscionable” the plan to repeal Obamacare taxes while placing limits on future Medicaid growth. The portion of the GOP plan the Bishops called “unconscionable” for its harm to the poor was originally proposed by President Bill Clinton.

Republicans then agreed to major concessions. They preserved Obamacare’s massive taxes on the wealthy. The GOP also proposed additional billions of dollars in grants to help states cover anyone harmed by the transition. They did all this while maintaining pro-life protections in the bill by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and preventing taxpayer support for insurance plans that kill children. And they proposed the creation of excellent new options for Catholic families to purchase more affordable plans.

And yet… the Bishops deemed the revised Senate Republican bill “still unacceptable.”

Of course Catholics can respectfully disagree on the best way to provide affordable and accessible healthcare for all. But it’s hard not to conclude that our Bishops have been moving the goalposts. In our opinion, a golden opportunity to advance real reform was missed.

WHAT NOW?

Sadly the only solutions offered by opponents of the recent proposals largely involve the “shoring up of Obamacare” by bailing out insurance companies. This is nothing more than a band-aid that will cost billions — with no real reforms.

Meanwhile, the chorus for socialized medicine, otherwise known as “single payer,” continues to grow. This path must be opposed at every turn.

We are realists and know the path to health care reform remains very, very difficult. But Obamacare is imploding. Something must be done, sooner than later. We simply cannot run from this debate.

Catholic voters will likely have to wait until the Fall or later for the dust to settle. Perhaps when families are denied access to another doctor, or receive their annual notices of massive premium hikes for next year in the mail this November…

President Trump said today that Obamacare will need to implode before Democrats will negotiate in good faith. This is shameful, but probably true.

OUR PLAN

Today, I am angry. Tomorrow, we dig back in.

There is always a chance the Obamacare implosion will result in a genuine reform plan capable of winning the votes needed to pass. The deck is reset and new ideas are already circulating. We will continue to work in whatever way we can to help make that happen.

Meanwhile, we are preparing our strategy to defeat as many as 5 Senate Democrats next year. Bob Casey (PA), Claire McCaskill (MO), Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Donnelly (IN) have all refused to lift a finger to help Catholics being pummeled by Obamacare.

All five of these Democrat Senators claim to be Catholic. And all five voted to protect pro-abortion Obamacare.

If you are frustrated like I am today, I hope you will resolve to do more.

Right now, the truth is Planned Parenthood and the “Resistance” crowd are fighting harder than our side.

If we want to see changes, we all have to step up our game.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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Brian Burch is President of CatholicVote.org.

40 Comments

  1. Ryan Schroeder on

    An actual Catholic argument for the Senate health care bill – and this article is certainly not a Catholic argument for the bill – would answer 1) why high risk pools are the best way to cover the health care needs of sick people and 2) how 70 billion over seven years is adequate to cover the estimated 27% of the population (Kaiser Health Foundation) that would end up in a high risk pool without the protections of the Affordable Care Act.

    Mathematically, that’s very little money to help people pay for the astronomical premiums that come with a high risk pool. But, there’s not a single number or statistic on this to be found in your article.

    The Catholic Church has long called for UNIVERSAL health care. How do high risk pools, and accompanying low funding to them, help us get there?

    • Actually, your comment begs the question-how would the Catholic Church bring about the UNIVERSAL health care they claim they want?

      They live on handouts-I get that. Am I supposed to pay for them AND everyone else?

      • Can you please answer a simple question: do you think premiums and expenses for sick Americans will be higher or lower than the present with healthy, presumably young people exiting the market and buying basic plans with low premiums?

          • Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance was medically underwritten.  Without protections, insurers were free to 1) deny coverage 2) provide coverage for only certain needs 3) put lifetime and annual caps on coverage.  Since sick people were essentially forced out of the market, OF COURSE THEIR PREMIUMS WERE LOWER and of course overall premiums were lower on average.  If you subtract all the risk out of an insurance pool, of course premiums will be lower!  This is basic math.  But it takes a really brazen person to speak for the sick and declare they would rather have lower premiums or no coverage than their health needs covered.  Really brazen.  27% of American adults have conditions that insurers could deny without the protections of the ACA.

            http://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/pre-existing-conditions-and-medical-underwriting-in-the-individual-insurance-market-prior-to-the-aca/

            Perhaps you missed the basic fact that the uninsured rate was 17% before the Affordable Care Act.  In 2016, the rate was 8%.  Does it really surprise you that adding sick people into the market is going to raise the average price of premiums?  Do you understand how insurance works?  I’m beginning to think you do not, since all you have to offer is boilerplate conservative talking points about “government interference.”

            It’s very telling that you won’t answer my question, or the questions posed by anyone here.

            Why do you think that the health care market in the US should be designed to deliver the lowest possible costs to the healthy and the highest costs to the sick?  Do you plan on being an old and unhealthy person one day, or have you discovered the fountain of youth?

      • Ryan Schroeder on

        Ram – I’m sorry, but you frequently are making claims for other people that they never said. I don’t know how you determined that universal health care means that you or any other group is paying for everyone else. You seem to think that universal health care is a single payer system. I didn’t make that claim, nor is that claim remotely true. There are assuredly many ways of covering every single person’s health care needs.

        The article talks about the Bishops moving the goal posts. If you think the Catholic Church’s teaching on universal health care is wrong, so be it. But that’s moving the goal posts!

        Once again, you haven’t actually addressed the content of my comment. If you think that high risk pools are a more efficient structure to insure the sick than the current structure, then say so, but at least explain why.

        • If someone does not now pay a premium for their coverage, or is given coverage when they would not have been prior, incurs a cost to those who pay premiums.

          Their coverage – the claims they make and are paid on-drives up the cost of the same coverage to the person paying the premiums who is not sick all the time.

          If you willingly break the precepts of insurance coverage, it ceases to work as it should.

          • Ryan Schroeder on

            So you’re fine with people languishing in poor health and dying from diseases if they can’t afford coverage or care? All in the name of lower premiums for the healthy?

          • People who cannot afford coverage magically can afford it if the government runs the coverage program?

            How does that work-when the premiums went up and are going up and the insurers are leaving the marketplace?

        • ” I don’t know how you determined that universal health care means that you or any other group is paying for everyone else”

          Process of elimination-

          Who administers these programs-they’re single payer. Who is that single payer and how is said payer funded?

          • Ryan Schroeder on

            What is the point of health insurance? To address issues with your health? If only healthy people can afford insurance, and sick people can’t, what are the healthy people spending their money on? This is like opposite day with you. You want the protections for the people who don’t need it! In your perfect world, everyone can have health insurance until they get sick, and then they won’t be able to afford it anymore, since as you already argued you don’t want any government interference in the market. No protections for pre-existing conditions. Your premiums go way up when you get sick, because there’s no law preventing it. Your coverage can be cancelled when you get sick, because there’s no law preventing it. Again, no government interference in the market. Literally, this system would function 100% the opposite of what any logical person would argue.
            Why, in this system, would any healthy people even buy insurance, since they’ll basically never get to use it for any significant health needs?

          • Ryan-

            “What is the point of health insurance? To address issues with your health?”

            No-it’s to mitigate your financial exposure related to health care expenses.

            I’m healthy. I have health insurance. You get it before you need it. Like car insurance. Like homeowners insurance. Like life insurance.

            I have indeed made claims against my health insurance policy. I can still afford the premiums and continue to pay them.

            If I am insured and fall ill subsequent to purchasing insurance, that’s not a “pre-existing condition”.

            If people got cancelled for getting sick en masse, why would any logical person lobby as hard as you for everyone to HAVE health insurance?

            One side of the street or the other, Ryan.

  2. Anna-

    “Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance was medically underwritten. Without protections, insurers were free to 1) deny coverage 2) provide coverage for only certain needs 3) put lifetime and annual caps on coverage. Since sick people were essentially forced out of the market, OF COURSE THEIR PREMIUMS WERE LOWER and of course overall premiums were lower on average.”

    Yeah-my point. It was “insurance”-underwriting was used, etc.

    What you want is welfare. People who can’t afford or obtain insurance now get their heath care costs covered by premium payers who’s premiums are raised as a consequence of removing underwriting and increasing claim payout.

    “Why do you think that the health care market in the US should be designed to deliver the lowest possible costs to the healthy and the highest costs to the sick? ”

    Healthy people, like good drivers or are erstwhile lower risk, pay lower premiums (before ACA). People who make more claims upon their insurance (bad drivers, people who’s cars are more likely to be stolen, younger drivers-and the sick, who make more claims on their insurer) pay higher premiums. That’s how insurance works.

    Handing money to sick people is not “insurance”.

  3. Anna-

    “Do you plan on being an old and unhealthy person one day, or have you discovered the fountain of youth?”

    Neither-that’s why I bought……………………………..health insurance.

    • So if you were diagnosed with cancer, your rates skyrocketed to the point that you can’t afford to pay, or your insurer simply refused to cover treatments, you would be fine with that?

      • Your premium stays the same-your costs with cancer can go up as the treatments are expensive-i.e. copays, coinsurance on bigger bills.

        Insurance doesn’t remove all the costs of what you insure for.

        Insurance is to mitigate risk. Not eliminate it.

        • Yes, your premiums stay the same despite changes in health – because of the protections in the Affordable Care Act! That is literally written in the law. The same protections partially preserved in the Senate Bill. You already argued against any government interference in the market, so you can’t claim regulatory protections when you want them gone.

          • The ACA has made insurance an untenable situation. Insurers are dropping out of the exchanges.

            Now what?

            The ACA isn’t workable.

  4. Ram – yes, you have already told us, repeal the ACA. But as a result, your claim that your premiums can’t go up if you get sick is false, since that law would be repealed. So again you can try to answer the question as to whether you would be fine with your rates going way up or your coverage being cancelled if you are diagnosed with cancer. This is the exact situation you support – you want the ACA gone, and your exact words were that rates are lower when the government is not in the market.

  5. Ryan Schroeder on

    Ram, you’re simply making things up. “If I am insured and fall ill subsequent to purchasing insurance, that’s not a “pre-existing condition”.”

    The Affordable Care Act ESTABLISHED THE LAW stating that insurance companies cannot cancel your insurance plan when you get sick. SEC. 2712 in the PDF below, read it for yourself.

    SEC. 2711 established that plans cannot put a limit on the annual or lifetime amount of care you receive, a de facto way of raising your rates.

    http://housedocs.house.gov/energycommerce/ppacacon.pdf

    So again, you can’t claim that none of these adverse affects will happen to you when the law you want repealed is repealed. You’re making things up.

    • I don’t think the ACA nor you can redefine”pre-existing condition”.

      That’s a condition you have BEFORE you are insured.

      SEC2712 and SEC2711 both work to make insurance provision untenable. So, they’re nice things but they do not work within the constructs of insurance. They both work against what insurance is designed to do-remember that insurance is not intended to me a conduit for money to go to insured. The insurers are not 501C corporations. And, before you bang on them for that, they employ people too who need insurance.

      • This isn’t rocket science. Just point out the law that states an insurer may not raise premiums on the insured. Or are you just making things up?

        • I don’t think I ever said that insurers cannot raise premiums.

          They do in every other insurance model. You file a lot of auto claims-your premium goes up. You file a lot of homeowners claims-your premium goes up. They don’t go up every time anyone files a claim-they go up if the insurer assesses that your current premiums do not adequately cover the claims payouts per their risk tables. etc.

          You want the insurance equation nullified for health insurance, and we’ve seen that that is untenable.

          • Oh come on, Ram.
            “Your premium stays the same-your costs with cancer can go up as the treatments are expensive-i.e. copays, coinsurance on bigger bills.”
            https://catholicvote.org/health-care-fail/#comment-247861
            So again, answer the question. Are you OK with an insurer raising your rates to the point you can’t pay when you’re diagnosed with cancer, or cancelling your coverage entirely? It’s a yes or no question you can’t seem to answer.

          • Anna-

            Your premium doesn’t go up ALL THE TIME.

            If cancer treatment is part of my coverage, I’m paying for it and the insurer would not have grounds to drop me.

            I’m sure you are armed with a fistful of anecdotes where you claim this has occurred, but if insurance worked that way all the time, no one would think it necessary that everyone had some form of it.

      • Ryan Schroeder on

        OK, so just to confirm, if you had a life-threatening illness, and your insurer said we’ll only pay X amount for the year, and anything else for the treatments you need to save your life you’ll have to pay on your own, you’re fine with that?
        Also, if you were diagnosed with, say, leukemia, and your insurer said “Nah, we don’t want to pay the gargantuan costs that are going to come with this, your plan is cancelled.” You would be OK with that?
        Yes or No for both?

        • Ryan-

          Your insurance coverage is what it is WHEN YOU BUY IT. So, when you buy it, the terms spell out that the insurer will cover, i.e. X% up to $X maximum for whatever claims are made for treatment.

          If I’m not “fine” with that I either buy additional coverage or find different insurance.

          In your leukemia example, does the policy cover cancer treatment? If “yes”, then they will pay per the terms of the insurance contract. if “no”, then they will not pay. Again, my feelings about it aren’t at issue.

          • Ryan Schroeder on

            Your insistence that insurance works the way it works because you have declared so simply doesn’t fly. If you are correct, surely you can point to the statutory laws that indicate so. You don’t, won’t and can’t.
            I, and others here, have posted multiple times that the law stating that insurance can’t be cancelled when you get sick is in the Affordable Care Act. You call for the ACA to be repealed. Fine. What is not fine is declaring that the law preventing cancellations is repealed, but insurance still can’t be cancelled, just because. If it can’t, there is some sort of statute in place to protect policyholders. Yet you want us to believe that there both is and is not such a statute in place upon repeal. BOTH CAN’T BE TRUE.

          • Ryan-

            How else do you believe it works?

            I made my statements based upon how insurance works in every instance other than health insurance and how it USED to work prior to ACA.

            You want insurance to not work as insurance RE healthcare. The ACA is a model of how that works in practice. It drives insurers out of the market, leaving people with very limited options for coverage, if any, at a too-high price.

            That’s reality. That’s happening right now.

            I don’t make the news-I’m just reporting it.

  6. ‘‘A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not rescind such plan or coverage with respect to an enrollee once the enrollee is covered under such plan or coverage involved, except that this section shall not apply to a covered individual who has performed an act or practice that constitutes fraud or makes an intentional misrepresentation of material fact as prohibited by the terms of the plan or coverage. Such plan or coverage may not be cancelled except with prior notice to the enrollee, and only as permitted under section 2702(c) or 2742(b).”

    It’s not an anecdote, it’s the literal text of the law that you are calling to be repealed.  Section 2712.  Again, you are simply making things up.  You cannot claim protections against cancellation exist when you are calling for them to end!

    http://housedocs.house.gov/energycommerce/ppacacon.pdf

    • Who’s claiming protections against cancellations?

      Not me. Most of the cancellations that occurred were due to misrepresentation of fact in applications for coverage. Again, the insurer does not exist as a bottomless bucket of money that pours out endlessly-or at least, they didn’t until ACA.

      The simple fact of the matter is that the law is driving insurers from the marketplace, leaving the consumers of same out in the cold with vastly reduced choices at higher costs.

  7. Ryan Schroeder on

    If it was not possible prior to the ACA for insurers to cancel policies, I guess all these stories must be “fake news.” I’m posting them one by one to avoid the spam filter here.

    2009 – “In the past 18 months, California’s five largest insurers paid almost $19 million in fines for marooning policyholders who had fallen ill. That includes a $1 million fine against Health Net, which admitted offering bonuses to employees for finding reasons to cancel policies, according to company documents released in court.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/07/AR2009090702455_pf.html

    • Ryan Schroeder on

      Good quote from the same story that must be false:

      “Officials from three insurance companies told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee this summer they had saved $300 million by canceling about 20,000 policies over five years.”

    • I never claimed it wasn’t possible for policies to be cancelled prior to ACA. I said if they did it all the time no one would buy insurance ever.

      Evidently, you weren’t supposed to cancel policies arbitrarily.- the insurers got the hell fined out of them.

      The majority of cancellations were for misrepresentation of applications-not these you cite-ones that happened as matter of course.

      • Ryan Schroeder on

        Ram –

        The burden of proof rests with the claimant. Cite the statistic indicating the majority of cancellations were for misrepresentation. After all, you don’t make things up, right?

        So again, let’s try the question. Are you fine with your insurer cancelling your policy when you are sick, whether it’s fraudulent or not? Yes, or no? I think I know why you refuse to answer. Because no rational person would actually answer yes.

        As a rational person might understand, it does little good to fine a company years later for cancelling an insurance policy when one is sick right now. Most of us don’t get to schedule our sickness.

        • I don’t make things up.

          I was looking at a good NPR article-here:

          http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105680875

          The insurers make the case on the misrepresentations on applications

          “The act of retroactively canceling insurance is called rescission. It happens with individual health insurance policies, where people apply for insurance on their own, not through their employers. Their application generally includes a questionnaire about their health.

          The process begins after a policyholder has been diagnosed with an expensive condition such as cancer. The insurer then reviews the health status information in the questionnaire, and if anything is missing, the policy may be rescinded.

          The omission from the application may be deliberate, to hide a health condition that might have made the applicant ineligible for insurance. But sometimes there’s an innocent explanation: The policyholder may not have known about a health condition, or may not have thought it was relevant.”

          “The rescissions based on omissions or immaterial conditions incensed many lawmakers. ”

          The application thing was not in dispute here-the lawmakers did not counter that the insurers were rescinding policies willy-nilly simply due to the insured becoming sick.

          Yeah, the insurance companies looked at the policies to make sure the applications were accurate, etc. It’s their money they’d have to pay . out. Not sure why I have to write this unless you have never made an auto claim and don’t understand how these companies work.

          If insurers made wholesale cancellations of policies at the first claim, who in their right mind would then buy insurance?

          Think.

          • Ryan Schroeder on

            So just to be clear, since once again you have failed to answer the question, if you had your policy rescinded because you failed to list some random doctor’s visit you once took years ago, you’re fine with your insurer cancelling your policy and you dealing with cancer out of your own pocket? Yes, or no?

          • Ryan-

            I already responded to your question.

            Now, you’re asking me if I’d be “fine”-whatever “fine” means-if my insurer cancelled my policy on the basis of my having filled out the application incorrectly or incompletely.

            It happens. My being “fine” with it isn’t really at issue. If it happened to me, it would not be a good thing for me personally.

            As you and Anna never tire of telling me, insurers cannot now cancel the policies unless, well, we have a case of “a covered individual who has performed an act or practice that constitutes fraud or makes an intentional misrepresentation of material fact as prohibited by the terms of the plan or coverage”.

            Kind of reads like the reasons given for rescinding the policies that the NPR article talked about, save for immaterial conditions now not being grounds.

  8. Two signs this is thoughtless propaganda:

    1) “Medicaid is sprinting toward insolvency”. There is no Medicaid Trust Fund to become insolvent. Social Security, Medicare Hospital Insurance, Disability Insurance, Civil Service Retirement all have Trust Funds that may or may not be solvent. Medicaid does not. The author does not understand this basic accounting principle. he may think Medicaid costs too much, but that is not insolvency.

    2), The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled the anti-abortion provisions of the GOP health care bill do not qualify for Reconciliation. She is the “green eye shades” person in the room. The reason these provisions do not qualify is because there is no federal funding of abortion in Obamacare to cut.

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