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Friday, May 5, 2017
Mark Levin: House bill repeals only 10 percent of Obamacare
Conservative talk show host Mark Levin says the House "repeal" of Obamacare repeals only about 10%. He made the following points on his show on Thursday:
1) Some Obamacare taxes are repealed. Hooray!
2) The government will pay $138 billion to cover people with "pre-existing conditions," a fancy name for people who refuse to get health insurance until they get sick and then expect you, the taxpayer, to pay for their health care. One hundred thirty-eight billion dollars is a lot of money.
3) The federal government will continue to pay all costs of new Medicaid patients until 2020. That gives states incentives to continue to sign up more and more people for Medicaid, a program that is rapidly becoming unsustainable.
4) It is still illegal to sell insurance across state lines. Competition across state lines would have helped keep premiums down. Now that will not happen.
4) The insurance mandates are not repealed, but states can apply for a waiver.
This last point is the heart of the House bill. A lot of the increased costs of Obamacare stem from the requirements that insurance cover a whole bunch of so-called "essential benefits" like drug addiction and psychiatric services, which raises the cost for everyone who doesn't need or want such coverage.
Under the House bill, states can apply for a waiver so insurance companies can sell insurance without such "essential benefits." They can then offer policies at much lower costs since they are not offering to cover so many extra areas.
The problem with this is that consumers will see lower premiums only if they live in states that decide to allow insurance companies to sell policies without such "essential benefits." If you live in a blue state like New York or California or Illinois, you won't have this choice. The "repeal" bill puts the decision of what should be in the policies in the state's hands, not the consumer's.
But even if you live in a red state that decides to let insurers opt out of such expensive coverage, the federal government can still veto the opt-out and require insurers to offer only policies that cover everything. The Obamacare rules have not been lifted; they have been suspended, only if an individual state applies to the federal government for a waiver and only if the federal government does not deny the waiver. That means that the next time we get a Democrat president, he can deny the waivers and in this respect restore Obamacare to exactly the way it used to be. This is the Republicans' definition of "repealing" Obamacare.
President Trump calls this the "repeal and replacement" of Obamacare. That's simply not true. One wonders how the results might have been different if President Trump had proposed a bill repealing Obamacare. Despite his promise to do so, the president never once submitted a bill or even a proposal for repealing Obamacare. He simply waited for whatever emerged from the House and declared victory.
If President Trump had addressed the nation in a series of addresses, stressing the reasons why Obamacare should have been repealed, pressure might have been put on congressmen, and we might have gotten a better bill. That's how Ronald Reagan did it. But Trump preferred to sit back. His only contribution was stating that he wants pre-existing conditions covered, that people who refuse to get insurance should have their medical costs paid for by the rest of us.
What do you think? Is this the great "repeal" of Obamacare that President Trump says it is? Or is Mark Levin right, and this is more of a slimming down of Obamacare rather than the dissolution of it?