Who’s right — President Donald Trump and Sen. Bill Cassidy, or late-night host Jimmy Kimmel?
None has really captured the complexity of the debate over who might lose insurance protections in the latest Republican health care bill. But of the three, the TV guy is the hardest to refute.
Trump insists in a tweet that the bill covers pre-existing conditions, a point also made by Cassidy, a sponsor of the legislation. But there’s a catch. It allows states to get a waiver from “Obamacare” requirements that insurers charge the same to people with health problems as they do to healthy people.
The potential result: unaffordable premiums for people in poor health.
Here’s a look at Trump’s assertion, the facts and the Kimmel-Cassidy feud:
TRUMP: “I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great Bill. Repeal & Replace.”
THE FACTS: Such coverage may be included but it’s far from assured.
The health care law enacted by President Barack Obama in 2010 offers two levels of protection for people with pre-existing conditions. The GOP bill would allow states to undermine one of them. That loophole could lead to policies priced out of reach.
To start with, “Obamacare” requires insurers to take all customers, regardless of health problems. On top of that, it prohibits insurers from charging more on account of medical conditions.
Under the GOP bill moving toward a Senate vote next week, insurers would still be required to accept people with pre-existing conditions. But here’s where the catch comes in:
States could seek waivers that allow insurers to charge people more on account of health problems. That would allow insurers to offer lower-premium plans to healthier customers.
And states could also get waivers that allow insurers to tailor benefits so that people with costly conditions are discouraged from signing up. For example: plans that don’t cover treatment for substance abuse problems.
“If I was a person with a pre-existing condition, I would say I don’t have any guarantee of getting health insurance if the bill passes,” said Gary Claxton of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, an expert on the private health insurance system.
“Insurers can charge people with pre-existing conditions much higher rates, making it essentially a denial,” added Claxton.
Dr. Michael Munger of Kansas City, Kansas, estimates that 4 in 10 of the patients in his family medicine practice have some sort of condition…