Fact Check: Sen. Bill Cassidy on his health care bill assertions

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., made several statements about his and Sen. Lindsey Graham’s, R-S.C., health care bill that seemed worthy of some fact-checking. Below are four assertions and our explanations for them based on conversations with health care experts.

STATEMENT: “There will be more folks covered under this bill than the status quo and it protects people with pre-existing conditions.” – ABC News interview

FACT CHECK: The Graham-Cassidy bill would scrap the individual mandate requiring people to buy insurance -– the crux of Obamacare which is so anathema to its opponents –- meaning people would no longer be penalized for not having insurance.

James Capretta, a fellow with the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, told ABC News the absence of the individual mandate means Graham-Cassidy is “highly, highly unlikely” to cover more people than current law.

“Absent other changes it’s likely this kind of approach would encourage and provide an incentive for healthy people to stay out of the market as long as possible and get back only when they need it,” he said.

But even if the highly unlikely scenario of covering more people did happen, other experts note that increasing the number of people who are covered doesn’t mean much if their policies don’t cover much.

“States could provide a lot more people with insurance cards in their pocket, but that’s not the same as saying there’s as much coverage as there is today,” Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told ABC News.

Besides the individual mandate, another big variable between the Graham-Cassidy plan and existing law is that the Republicans’ proposal allows states to waive existing requirements, like certain essential health benefits and prohibitions on charging people with pre-existing conditions more, as long as they describe to the secretary of Health and Human Services, who would make the determination, “how the state intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

That’s much weaker language than in the Affordable Care Act, which does allow states to request waivers from requirements under a narrow program but requires them to ensure health care that is “as comprehensive and affordable as would be provided absent the waiver,” which Pollitz said is a much more powerful enforcement mechanism.

Matt Fiedler, a health care policy fellow at…

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