House Conservatives Plan ObamaCare Alternative

House Conservatives Plan ObamaCare Alternative

With just seven weeks until the implementation of ObamaCare on October 1st, the Republican Study Committee is readying legislation that would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a new package of health care reforms. The RSC is the GOP’s internal caucus of House conservatives. It plans to unveil its new set of reforms when Congress returns from recess in September. 

“Chairman Scalise and the RSC Health Care Working Group are drafting legislation to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with a conservative alternative that fixes the problems in our healthcare system without the harmful taxes and mandates in the President’s law,” RSC spokesman Stephen Bell told The Hill. “The timetable for rollout is slated for this fall.” 

Details of the RSC proposal haven’t been released, but the organization has generally favored policies that give individual consumers greater latitude over their insurance and health care decisions. News reports on the RSC plan, however, did glimpse one provision that raises possible concerns. The Hill reported:

The forthcoming measure from Scalise and his peers will include protections for people with pre-existing conditions, a key feature of President Obama’s law. Bell did not provide more details. 

Preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is very popular, for a number of good reasons. For an insurance company, a relatively minor condition like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome can be considered grounds for denying coverage. Almost 20 years ago, Congress passed a law, HIPAA, that provided protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

But pre-existing conditions can also be described as “waiting until you are very sick to buy health insurance.” One could go years without health insurance, get diagnosed with cancer and then purchase coverage. This erodes the very idea of insurance and would be financially ruinous for the system. 

Like all insurance, the health insurance industry uses premium payments from the overwhelming number of healthy people who aren’t at any given time consuming health care to cover the costs of those few who are. In other words, the premiums you pay when you aren’t sick cover your health care costs when you are. 

ObamaCare is able to mandate coverage for pre-existing conditions because it mandates that everyone has coverage. Premiums from healthy, currently uninsured people will cover the costs of sick, currently uninsured people. 

It will be interesting to see how the RSC threads this needle. 

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