Paul Ryan: Let's Bring Back Pre-Existing Conditions
Credit: Politico
April 28, 2016

Paul Ryan is not working for his constituents, and neither are many of his cohorts in Congress. They are working to increase the profit margins of health insurance companies, period. Speaker Ryan wants to remove the provision of the president's signature health care legislation that prevents insurance companies from denying care to those with pre-existing conditions.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan called on Wednesday for an end to Obamacare’s financial protections for people with serious medical conditions, saying these consumers should be placed in state high-risk pools.

In election-year remarks that could shed light on an expected Republican healthcare alternative, Ryan said existing federal policy that prevents insurers from charging sick people higher rates for health coverage has raised costs for healthy consumers while undermining choice and competition.

Ryan boasts that his GOP will present an alternative to the ACA, perhaps in time for the RNC in July. There's no doubt that their alternative is an even bigger gift to health insurers who can make even more off the misfortunes of those with pre-existing conditions with this high-risk pool. How is the ACA different in this regard?

The Affordable Care Act guarantees protections, which ends up costing more, but which provides greater and more stable health security for more people. It’s a trade-off based on a moral calculus.

And as it turns out, polling shows these protections are among the law’s most popular provisions. Ryan assumes that Obamacare is so widely disliked that the public will rally behind a far-right alternative, but what he doesn’t fully appreciate is the fact that the GOP solution is going to make the Affordable Care Act look even better.

“Less than 10 percent of people under 65 are what we call people with pre-existing conditions, who are really kind of uninsurable,” Ryan told a Georgetown University audience yesterday. “Let’s fund risk pools at the state level to subsidize their coverage, so that they can get affordable coverage. You dramatically lower the price for everybody else.”

Not to put too fine a point on this, but the Speaker’s rhetoric at Georgetown was effectively an endorsement of insurers discriminating against the sick. Just imagine the savings!

As for the high-risk pools Ryan envisions for the millions of Americans who used to be “kind of uninsurable,” wonks sometimes refer to these pools as “health insurance ghettos” for people with pre-existing conditions. They could create a coverage option for these Americans, but they’d cost a small fortune – and congressional Republicans have said more than once that they have no interest in paying for them.

Ryan grossly underestimates the percentage of people with pre-existing conditions, as we know insurance companies can indiscriminately change their definition of what they consider pre-existing. Keep it up, GOP. Your leaders are exacerbating your unfavorable ratings so quickly, you may go the way of the Whigs. The American people are slowly catching on that you don't serve their interests at all.

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