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Word from the White House: House Republican Health Care "Plan" Putting Families at Risk

The House Republican Leadership finally unveils their reform plan.

It's no secret that institutions of all stripes focus their communications on certain messages day to day. We thought it would all be a little more open and transparent if we went ahead and published what our focus will be for the day, along with any related articles, documents, or reports.  Today we publish our second batch.

Supporting article: "Republicans want to make the insurance industry more like the credit card industry," Ezra Klein, Washington Post, 11/3/09

Supporting article: "Boehner's Health Care Bill At Odds With Pre-Existing GOP Positions," Huffington Post, 11/3/09

Talking Points: House Republican Health Care "Plan": Putting Families at Risk  

  • After months of offering nothing but obstruction and roadblocks, House Republicans have now put together a hastily-constructed, last-minute "plan" for health reform. But the reality is that their plan would put families at risk by giving insurance companies more power to discriminate against patients while accumulating record profits.
  • The bottom line is that under the House Republican plan, millions of Americans would lose the coverage and security they currently have.
  • There is a lot of empty GOP rhetoric out there about this plan, so let's look at the reality of what they’re offering American families:

RHETORIC: The House Republican health care plan expands coverage to those who cannot get insurance now.

REALITY: The Republicans' bill leaves affordable health insurance out of reach for millions of Americans. 

No Elimination of Discrimination Based on Pre-existing Conditions: Nowhere does the bill make it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. As a result, consumers will never be fully protected and guaranteed coverage options.

High-Risk Pools Will Not Provide Americans with Access to Affordable Coverage: The Republican bill states that it improves access through high-risk pools, but according to the bill, those states that currently do not have high-risk pools never need to develop them, and those states that have high-risk pools could close them.

Democrats Ensure No American Remains Uninsured Due to A Pre-existing Condition As a Bridge to REAL Health Insurance Reform. The President and House Democrats support affordable access to a high-risk pool nationwide for individuals with pre-existing conditions as a bridge to real insurance reform in 2013.

RHETORIC: The House Republican health care "plan" lets families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines.

REALITY: Unlike the House Leadership bill, the Republicans' bill takes us backwards rather than forwards. 

In the Absence of Insurance Reform, This Policy will Undermine Patients' Protections: This proposal, which would allow insurance to be sold across state lines in the absence of any broader reforms to prevent discrimination in the individual marketplace, would undermine patients’ protections and drive up premiums. Under this policy, states would have a further incentive to gut consumer protections, which would create a devastating race to the bottom.

Insurers Can "Cherry Pick" Healthy Individuals: Without any additional protections, insurers would be allowed to cherry pick healthy enrollees by marketing strategies, benefit design, and targeting those states with the least consumer protections. That would drive up premiums for everyone else trying to buy insurance in the state.

RHETORIC: The House Republicans' bill allows individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together to acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do today.

REALITY: So-called "Association Health Plans" will reduce choices for small businesses and leave consumers vulnerable to fraud and abuse.

Association Health Plans are Exempt from State Consumer Protections: Association Health Plans (AHPs) allow small businesses from different states to pool together to buy health insurance that is exempt from consumer protections secured by many state laws. They undermine states’ comprehensive tools to prevent, identify and shut down fraudulent plans.

AHPs Allow Insurers to Cherry Pick Healthy Workers: By avoiding state consumer protections, AHPs make it easier for insurance companies to "cherry pick" healthy individuals and firms, leaving out those who are older or sicker, raising premiums for everyone else.

RHETORIC: The House Republican bill gives states the incentives through bonus payments to create their own reforms that lower health care costs and increase coverage.

REALITY: The Republican bill provides neither the means for cost containment nor the support that states need to get at cost drivers and increase the affordability of health care. It includes: 

NO policies to promote quality health care and efficiency of health care in private or public health insurance.
NO premium assistance for middle-income families that struggle to pay for health insurance.
NO increased support or options for states to build the platforms to improve the delivery system.

RHETORIC: The House Republican bill ends junk lawsuits that contribute to higher health care costs.

REALITY: The Republican bill offers new no ideas. The bill caps the amount of damages a person injured can receive and will preempt state consumer protection laws.

President Obama and House Democrats support a range of ideas on how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. That’s why President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on September 17th directing the HHS Secretary to move forward with an initiative to give states and health systems the opportunity to apply for medical liability demonstration projects. House Democrats have also included a voluntary state incentive grants program in their bill to encourage states to develop alternatives to traditional malpractice litigation.