In November of every even-numbered year since at least 1970, the biggest lie in American politics has been Democrats claiming that Republicans are going to take away your Social Security. Republicans learned to live in a defensive crouch and to try to avoid mentioning the words “Social Security.” Now the new lie is about health care, mostly that Republicans are going to take away coverage for preexisting conditions.
As usual, the truth is very different. The Senate Republican Policy Committee explained in a May 2017 paper that under the Republican-backed alternative to Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, “no one will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.” Even if you are skeptical of Republican talking points, you don’t have to look very far to find objective confirmation. According to FactCheck.org, “Sen. [Charles E.] Schumer [D-N.Y.] … was wrong to say, as he did on the Senate floor April 28, that the bill goes ‘back to the day when insurance companies could deny coverage to those with preexisting conditions.’ ”
And oh by the way, the Democrats are the ones who pushed for Obamacare’s burdensome regulations and expensive mandatory coverage, which upended the health insurance market. I don’t think Democrats specifically want patients to pay more out of pocket, but Obamacare required it and helped put us in this unfortunate position. According to Health Affairs, nearly 90 percent of individual enrollees in Obamacare plans in 2015 had deductibles above $1,300, which met the definition of a high-deductible plan, according to the IRS. By limiting consumer choice and mandating unneeded services, the Democrats directly attacked middle-class Americans — not Republicans. Full stop.
Republicans haven’t been able to fully repeal and replace Obamacare, but they have worked to reverse negative trends. According to a report Thursday from the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, “the average premium for second lowest cost silver plans (SLCSP) for the 2019 coverage year will drop by 1.5 percent, the first time average premiums have dropped since the implementation of the Federally-facilitated Exchange in 2014.” That doesn’t mean the battle is over, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t need better coverage options in America. But Democrats don’t have any answers.
A Pew poll published in late September showed that health care was the second most important issue to voters at the time, next only to the Supreme Court nomination, and ahead of the economy. Democrats lost on the Supreme Court, and voters credit President Trump and the Republican Congress for the booming economy. But Republicans could suffer if they can’t make health care an economic issue and it becomes more of a central issue that really drives votes in November. So, it is easy to see why Democrats are attacking Republicans on it.
In their recently released “For the People” agenda, Democrats criticize Trump for not doing enough to combat what they describe as “soaring” drug prices. But even as we speak, Republicans are working to shore up reforms and fix problems in the system. Of course, it got hardly any coverage, but just this week Trump signed into law two bills that make it easier for patients to learn about the true costs of their prescriptions. Unsurprisingly, few Democrats could be spotted behind the president at Wednesday’s signing ceremony.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) did his part to fight the Democrats’ fable when he recently told reporters, “I don’t want the Democrats getting away with making it up that pre-existing conditions are going to change.” The fact that Republicans are actively engaged in a fight to challenge Obamacare’s constitutionality in the courts should come as no surprise, and apparently neither should that Democrats won’t recognize Republicans for going the extra mile to assure voters of their support for health-care coverage of patients with preexisting conditions. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a lifelong member of the Republican right wing, has even released a compelling television advertisement in which he pledges support for protection of preexisting conditions. It features his daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 8. Nobody, no Republican, wants to deny people with preexisting conditions of insurance coverage. To say otherwise is just wrong.
Democrats can’t accept that the hallmark of the Obama years — Obamacare — has been a flop and is being taken apart piece by piece. And they will do anything to use the health-care issue against Republicans. No lie is too big.
Republicans don’t want to take away your health care or leave people with preexisting conditions without coverage. If Democrats will lie to you about this, they will lie to you about other things.
Michael W. McConnell: The latest assault on Obamacare is a dog of a case. No way Kavanaugh disagrees.
Catherine Rampell: Republicans take the coward’s way out on health care
Ruth Marcus: The Justice Department abandons the ACA — and with it, the law
Larry Levitt: The Trump administration’s hidden attacks on the Affordable Care Act