Andy Surabian: Big Insurance Cronies Don’t Need Another Bailout

People attending a healthcare rally in Maryland. Photo: Tim Sloan/AFP via Getty Images
Tim Sloan/AFP via Getty Images

It is no secret that Big Insurance and Big Government are partners in crime. The insurance lobby has a storied history of working in tandem with bureaucrats to cement their control over the industry, growing the size and scope of the government in the process.

Take Obamacare, for example. Sensing an opportunity for short-term gains, insurers threw their full support behind the leftist healthcare law, endorsing the disastrous program and profiting greatly from it. In doing so, Big Insurance sold out the American people—a reality that conservatives would be foolish to forget.

Now, the insurance companies are attempting to do it again.

Former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once famously said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” And it looks like Big Insurance and Big Government have taken that advice to heart. Recently, America’s leading insurance trade association lauded a bill that would once again enrich insurers and grow the federal government at the expense of our nation’s healthcare recipients. Only this time, they have the audacity to use the problem of surprise medical billing – a crisis facing some of the most vulnerable members of society – as cover.

Indeed, insurers are currently backing a piece of healthcare legislation known as the LHCC—the Lower Health Care Costs Act. The bill purports to solve the problem of surprise medical billing. This issue arises when, in emergency situations, insured patients receive care at out-of-network facilities, amassing outrageously expensive bills as a result.

No doubt, surprise billing is a serious matter that requires addressing. However, despite all the favorable media coverage the LHCC has received from the mainstream media, the legislation is actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The bill masquerades as a remedy for those suffering under the crisis of surprise medical billing, but its “quick fix” would only provide Big Insurance with higher profits and Big Government with even more power.

Rather than ensure insurance companies do their jobs by covering their patients’ bills, the legislation will have the government fix the price of all out-of-network healthcare services to median in-network rates.

Historically, price controls have never worked. They have always benefitted one special interest group at the expense of everyone else. The LHCC is not an exception. Its price controls will effectively empower insurance companies to manipulate medical prices and squeeze doctors, hospitals, and patients for every penny they have.

Since prices will become entirely dependent on the LHCC’s new median in-network rate, all insurers will have to do to make that midpoint benchmark smaller is kick the more skilled, higher-priced doctors off their networks. As a result,Americans will lose even more doctors than they did under Obamacare. Costs will increase on the most vulnerable, while insurers’ profits and monopoly power continue to increase.

Just like Obamacare in the past, the introduction of the LHCC is excellent news for the big players in healthcare insurance. By working on expanding the scope of federal authority, they stand to profit mightily. But conservatives have seen this movie before. They understand that insurers cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of the American people.

Republican leadership in the House and Senate must dismiss this crony power grab and fight for real reform that actually puts patients, doctors and hospitals ahead of the insurance lobby. Otherwise, America runs the risk of allowing Big Insurance and Big Government to rob even more people of the healthcare they want and deserve.

Andy Surabian is a Republican strategist and adviser to Donald Trump Jr. He served previously as a special assistant to President Trump and deputy strategist in the White House. 


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