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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 10, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 10
Insurance commissioner says GOP health plan is a bad deal
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Insurance commissioner says GOP health plan is a bad deal

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says the newly released Republican heath care plan is a bad deal for consumers.

In a statement released March 7, Kreidler - who is charged with overseeing insurance programs in the state - called the GOP plan 'a step backward for the millions of people who have gained coverage.'

'It's being rushed to a vote with little or no public review or fiscal analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office,' Kreidler added. 'This is an unprecedented way of doing the public's business.'

According to initial analysis by Kreidler's staff, there are at least six problems with the Republican plan being floated by House Speaker Paul Ryan:

o 'Eliminates the individual mandate: Dropping the individual mandate for coverage could prompt insurers to flee the market if not enough healthy people buy insurance. Washington state tried a similar measure in the 1990s and saw the individual health insurance market collapse.'

o 'Surcharge no substitute for mandate: A 30% surcharge for a gap in coverage of more than two months - billed as 'continuous coverage' - is a weak attempt to replace the individual mandate.'

o 'Inequitable tax credits: Tax credits replace income-based subsidies, meaning the poorest residents are at risk of eventually losing or foregoing coverage.'

o Tax shelter for higher incomes: Expanded use of health savings accounts - or tax shelters - fail to help low-income people who have no money to put into this type of account.'

o 'Older people pay more: Older people will pay significantly more for coverage in a couple of ways. The Republicans' plan allows insurers to charge older consumers up to five times more than younger consumers. It replaces income-based subsidies with age-based tax credits, which possibly may not offset increased premiums.'

o 'No coverage for abortion: The proposal forbids tax credits for any health care plan that covers abortions. This is a direct attack on women's rights and would lead to higher costs overall.'

The proposed changes would have a negative impact on health care consumers in Washington state, Kreidler said.

'Despite keeping some of the most popular protections of the Affordable Care Act, the Republican plan is almost certain to increase the rate of uninsured in Washington and throughout the nation,' he charged. 'Many people literally will be faced with life-and-death choices because of the inequities that make up the Republican proposal.'

'I will not allow our state to move backward,' Kreidler promised. 'I intend to fight vigorously to maintain the progress we've made in Washington state. Sound insurance principles require that we have a system that offers affordable and meaningful health care.'

Congressional Democrats reject GOP plan Congressional Democrats joined in Kreidler's rejection of the GOP health care plan, with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer calling the Republican plan a 'sham.'

'Trumpcare doesn't replace the Affordable Care Act,' Schumer said. 'It forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care. This plan would cut and cap Medicaid, defund Planned Parenthood, and force Americans, particularly older Americans, to pay more out of pocket for their medical care, all so insurance companies can pad their bottom line. It cuts taxes on the rich to make middle-class families pay more...

'This bill is a giveaway to the wealthy and insurance companies at the expense of American families, and Senate Democrats will work hard to see that it is defeated.'

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the Republican proposal 'a Make America Sick Again bill.'

'Republicans will force tens of millions of families to pay more for worse coverage - and push millions of Americans off of health coverage entirely,' she warned.

'The GOP bill shortens the life of the Medicare Trust Fund and pushes millions of seniors and disabled Americans who depend on Medicaid coverage into the cold. Republicans even enable insurers to once again charge more or deny coverage to millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, abandoning those families who lapse in coverage for any reason at all.'

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