Fake News on Healthcare Legislation Coming Your Way Soon | Citizens Against Government Waste

Fake News on Healthcare Legislation Coming Your Way Soon

The WasteWatcher

Later this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will have a floor vote on H.R. 986, deceitfully called the, "Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019."  The legislation, if it were to be implemented, would reverse some of the Trump administration's efforts to stabilize the individual health insurance markets that have been upended and grown more expensive ever since the similarly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, was implemented.

Since the Republican Congress was unable to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump administration has been doing what it can to fix health insurance through regulatory changes to Obamacare.  One initiative loosened up the restrictions the Obama administration put in place for Section 1332 of the ACA, entitled "Waiver for State Innovation."  This section of the law allows states to apply to the Department of Health and Human Services to waive certain federal requirements.  The Trump administration wrote new guidance, called the "State Relief and Empowerment Waiver Guidance," that allows states to develop new healthcare programs and solutions as an alternative to the ACA’s one-size-fits-all mandates.  The guidance enables states to write a waiver to get out from under the onerous rules imposed by the ACA.  CAGW wrote about this new guidance in 2018, which you can find here and here.

Perish the thought that many Democratic members of Congress would want to permit states to develop innovative ideas to improve healthcare delivery for their citizens.  Instead, they come up with "messaging" bills, such as H.R. 986, in an attempt to embarrass the president and any member of Congress who votes against the bill as "uncaring and heartless," churning up lots of fake news.  In fact, the waivers these members want to eliminate have been used to create reinsurance programs and high-risk pools that specifically help people with preexisting conditions and high healthcare costs, stabilize the insurance market, and drive down premium costs for other consumers.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste sent this letter today to the House of Representatives in response to this misguided effort:

May 8, 2019

U.S. House of Representatives
The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative,

You will soon vote on H.R. 986, a bill that would prevent the secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury from implementing, enforcing, or carrying out “State Relief and Empowerment Waiver Guidance” pertaining to Section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.  On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to oppose this legislation.

H.R. 986 would halt and reverse the progress states have made in fixing the expensive mess Obamacare created in the individual health insurance market by preventing them from developing and implementing innovative ideas to improve healthcare delivery for their citizens.

Americans vividly remember they were promised that under Obamacare, a typical family’s health insurance premium would be reduced on average by $2,500 a year.  But the opposite happened.  Due to Obamacare’s expensive and one-size-fits-all mandates, according to eHealth, the average cost of an individual health insurance plan increased by 123 percent between 2013 and 2018.  During the same period, the average monthly premium for a family plan increased by 174 percent.

Thanks to President Trump’s and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma’s leadership, states have been given the tools to lower premium costs, while still protecting people with pre-existing conditions, through Section 1332 waivers and State Relief and Empowerment Waiver Guidance.

On September 21, 2018, Modern Healthcare reported that, “Maryland joins several states that have implemented reinsurance programs to help stabilize their individual insurance markets in the face of rising premiums and shifting market rules.  Six other states – Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and Wisconsin – have received federal approval for a reinsurance program” via the Section 1332 waiver.  Even better, the states are doing this without new federal spending.

In her October 22, 2018 blog, Administrator Verma explained how the waiver guidance works.  It allows states to waive certain federal requirements and develop new programs and solutions that would “allow states to get out from under the onerous rules imposed by the ACA” but within certain guiderails:  comprehensiveness, affordability, coverage, and federal deficit neutrality.  She affirmed nothing in the new guidance “reduces protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

The same people who supported Obamacare, with its higher premiums, fewer choices, and less competition are attempting to usurp a Trump administration initiative that is revitalizing competition, expanding choice, lowering premiums, and giving states the power to reform their health insurance markets to help their citizens, particularly those with preexisting conditions, through reinsurance programs.

Instead of eliminating the remarkable initiatives that are being developed under the Section 1332 guidance, which are helping patients and consumers, Congress should be codifying them into law so that a future president does not remove them, as supporters of this legislation are attempting to do.

I urge you to vote against H.R. 986.  All votes on this bill will be among those considered by CCAGW’s 2019 Congressional Ratings.

Thomas Schatz




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