Felicia Muftic: GOP health care prescriptions amount to ‘freeloader protections’
Grand County, CO Colorado
Republicans of all stripes ran for election on a commonly shared platform plank in 2010: to repeal or replace Obamacare. We can expect them to try to make good on that campaign promise in 2011.
This is going to be a year of hours upon hours devoted to rehashing the issue in Congress and on cable talk. Grab the headache pain killers.
The first salvo has already been fired against the mandate provision that requires everyone to carry insurance by 2014. Two of three federal judges upheld the constitutionality of the law so far in ruling on suits brought by some Republican attorneys general. A year from now the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve the issue. Also, expect the Republican controlled House to try to strip the law of the mandate provisions.
Let us call these strategies what they are: freeloader protection. They are being sold in the name of protecting individual rights from requirements to carry health insurance. It is really an attempt to cripple Obamacare in disguise.
What I find annoying is the glee many express at the possibility of the freeloading ruling succeeding. It appears to me that they want health care costs to rise and they care not much about helping those with pre-existing conditions. Freeloaders will run up the tab, making it nearly impossible to insure those with pre-existing conditions, and the entire cost of the health care system will be increased. The only ones winning if the mandates are overturned are those who intend to freeload the system. The rest of us will have gotten screwed.
Freeloaders who choose not to participate will get sick sometime in their lives and go to the emergency room. As we know, use of the ER now is extremely expensive medicine. Patients who go there are usually already very sick, prevention is not included in ER treatment, and using it in place of a primary care doctor is expensive in itself.
Another factor increasing cost is the expense of covering those with pre-existing conditions. Without increasing the number of healthy paying into the pool, it will be impossible or very expensive to cover those with pre-existing conditions. One suggested alternative is to establish permanent pools for those with high risk of getting sick and to subsidize them with tax dollars. High risk pools have already been set up under Obamacare as a temporary measure until 2014. The price tag is a known factor and costs are kept down now by limiting the number of participants to a fraction of those who could use it and charging them an arm and a leg.
Republicans have proposed covering some health care costs by reforming malpractice or increasing cross-state competition. The recent informal report of the Debt Reduction Commission viewed the Republican proposed replacements of Obamacare as an additional help to debt reduction, not a replacement of the savings built into the already passed reform law.
Otherwise, the state-by-state exchanges composed of competing private insurers to cover the millions of currently uninsured, extending coverage to those up to 26 years old, and the consumer protections would continue . However, the state exchanges would have to exclude those with pre-existing conditions and taxpayers may not be able to afford dumping them into those expensive high risk pools. The increased burden on charity care and ER medicine would then kick back up the entire system, shifting costs again to our insurance rates.
House Republicans will also try to starve implementation through the budget process. Democrats will have to show one more time how sabotaging the law will result in harming so many different groups of people.
Want to see the GOP squirm over competing priorities? Democrats should require Republican “replacement” proposals or a return to the status quo 2008 to be evaluated by the CBO. Courtesy of the Debt Reduction Commission, we already know Republican proposals would add to the deficit.
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