Senator: It's time to get real about pre-existing conditions

Remember when Democrats promised that if you liked your plan or your doctor you could keep them? Now they're...

Posted: Nov 1, 2018 1:12 AM
Updated: Nov 1, 2018 1:12 AM

Remember when Democrats promised that if you liked your plan or your doctor you could keep them? Now they're pushing another bogus claim, accusing Republicans of wanting to take away health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Here's the truth: everyone — Republicans and Democrats — support protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

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Way back in 2009, Republicans proposed a health care plan "to guarantee all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable coverage." A 2009 news report noted that President Obama's plan to provide insurance coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions would "borrow from" Senator John McCain's 2008 platform. When Democrats presented the framework of Obamacare in September 2009, the Republican response laid out "four important areas where we can agree." The very first one was that "All individuals should have access to coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions."

Republicans supported these protections then, and they continue to support them now. The reason Democrats are claiming otherwise and trying to rewrite history is simple: They're trying to protect the status quo created by Obamacare and set the stage for a single-payer health care system. They're using the nine pages of Obamacare that deal with pre-existing conditions to defend the entire law -- all 961 pages.

That's silly. We don't have to protect Obamacare to protect people with pre-existing conditions. I have introduced and supported other legislation to achieve that goal. And further, many people with pre-existing conditions have been losers under Obamacare.

One Colorado woman with a pre-existing condition had been covered by a high-risk pool for years, but her insurance plan was canceled under Obamacare. "Since then, my premiums skyrocketed. In 2017, I paid $735 a month with total out-of-pocket costs of $5,500. In 2018, my premiums went up to $1,100 a month with a deductible of $6,300," said Janet. "I have to spend $19,500 before my insurance pays anything, and it doesn't cover all my prescription costs. My old plan was almost a third of what I have to pay now."

After four-year-old Colette in Virginia was diagnosed with cancer, her family became entangled in a nightmare of insurance company red tape that reflects both problems with Obamacare and the risks of letting the political uncertainty around health care continue. Their only option for health insurance did not cover the only local hospital with a pediatric cancer unit. They had to consider moving to a new zip code just to get the coverage they needed.

Americans don't have to be stuck forever with high deductibles, eye-popping premiums and fewer choices, but increasingly the only change to the status quo Democrats support is "Medicare for all." It may sound nice, but it's actually a plan to end Medicare as we know it. Not only do studies show it would cost more than $32 trillion over 10 years, but taxes on families would have to be doubled or tripled to pay for it. Everyone who gets health insurance through their job would be kicked off their plan. And Medicare — a critically important program seniors rely on that is already projected to run out of money in just eight years — would in a few short years have to cover everyone in the country. The reality is that "Medicare for all" is Medicare for none.

Instead of more government-run health care, we need to give patients the power. Right now, the system is rigged in favor of lawyers and lobbyists — and against patients. Since 2009, the stock values of major health care companies have gone up more than 1,100%, and in one case, 4,000%. Meanwhile, some families' insurance premiums have gone up year after year.

Giving patients the power will lower their costs. We should increase price transparency so that patients can shop around and know the price of a visit or test before they get it, not six weeks later when they get a bill in the mail. We should go after monopolies so that companies have to compete for a patient's business instead of charging whatever they want.

We should give states flexibility to customize their programs while protecting people with pre-existing conditions, just like we have for years with the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). And we should reduce the cost of prescriptions by cracking down on the gimmicks drug makers use to game the system.

With a Republican-led House and Senate, we've already made some progress toward lowering health care costs. We passed legislation prohibiting gag clauses that ban pharmacists from telling customers they could save money on their prescription by paying cash. By ensuring patients are no longer kept in the dark, we're giving patients the power to make better choices. That's how we should approach more reforms.

The big companies and special interest groups may not like it, but they've reaped record profits from the current system they worked with Democrats to create. Meanwhile, too many Americans are still uninsured, too many families have coverage that is too expensive to be meaningful, and too many patients are struggling to pay their medical bills.

Democrats want to double down on this status quo. Republicans want to pass solutions that lower health care costs for families and give patients the power. That's the difference at stake in the midterm elections — and it has nothing to do with pre-existing conditions.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1084488

Reported Deaths: 17386
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1425562217
Lake705171220
Allen64347862
Hamilton49481481
St. Joseph48135639
Elkhart39011536
Vanderburgh33874494
Tippecanoe29863271
Johnson26876463
Hendricks25548379
Porter24683380
Madison20440444
Clark19785275
Vigo18609308
LaPorte16638260
Monroe16237217
Delaware16230286
Howard16181310
Kosciusko13763162
Hancock12644184
Bartholomew12544188
Warrick11889189
Wayne11794264
Floyd11792225
Grant11484233
Morgan10134188
Boone9576120
Noble8921121
Henry8917163
Marshall8792146
Dearborn875798
Dubois8673138
Shelby7958127
Cass7907126
Lawrence7861182
DeKalb7416106
Jackson738093
Huntington7280107
Gibson6922118
Montgomery6830122
Harrison680696
Knox6779113
Steuben641185
Miami6384106
Whitley631160
Putnam626582
Clinton614176
Wabash5958108
Jasper591991
Jefferson5617102
Ripley540892
Adams527881
Daviess4964116
Scott475978
Wells462998
White459967
Greene458399
Clay452162
Decatur4491109
Jennings434666
Fayette429094
LaGrange413890
Posey398344
Washington380654
Randolph3770107
Fountain364962
Spencer353446
Fulton352270
Starke343672
Sullivan342454
Owen341676
Orange320270
Jay315450
Rush293332
Carroll287037
Franklin283544
Perry281453
Vermillion277557
Parke244930
Tipton244664
Pike241744
Blackford213944
Pulaski203158
Newton176552
Brown169850
Crawford167129
Benton160517
Martin149219
Switzerland143712
Warren131416
Union115416
Ohio90513
Unassigned0581

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1673496

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1757641826
Cuyahoga1629012636
Hamilton1118741528
Montgomery791421387
Summit697231199
Lucas615331017
Butler55597803
Stark521611170
Lorain40661639
Warren35239412
Mahoning34821769
Lake31171493
Clermont30541362
Delaware26553182
Trumbull26366611
Licking26095335
Medina25072351
Fairfield24063287
Greene23957369
Clark21542387
Portage20538280
Richland20465336
Wood19524246
Allen18427320
Miami16950348
Columbiana16385331
Muskingum16346206
Wayne15351304
Tuscarawas14018357
Marion12978194
Erie12350198
Ashtabula12171225
Scioto12166182
Pickaway12009151
Ross11417223
Hancock11151173
Geauga10572174
Lawrence10433171
Belmont10200231
Huron9545155
Jefferson9425225
Union933375
Sandusky8981166
Seneca8639156
Knox8591169
Washington8578156
Athens825096
Darke8215179
Ashland7777147
Auglaize7695115
Shelby7302132
Defiance7174114
Brown7015115
Crawford7010150
Fulton6953111
Logan6818108
Mercer679397
Guernsey677983
Highland6591117
Madison639289
Clinton6361106
Williams623498
Preble6153139
Putnam6054120
Jackson569496
Champaign564786
Perry557179
Coshocton5525103
Ottawa549599
Morrow504464
Fayette481270
Hardin475399
Gallia460278
Pike457876
Van Wert451591
Adams4495109
Henry422776
Hocking398093
Holmes3917137
Wyandot366673
Carroll348978
Paulding317449
Meigs300957
Monroe230860
Noble216147
Morgan208938
Harrison204052
Vinton182037
Unassigned05
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