Huffington Post Op-Ed by Ethan Rome, HCAN Co-Director, Club for Growth Hits Airwaves to Make a Bad Health Care Bill Worse

“Obamacare repeal is being held up by Republican moderates who are trying to keep as much of Obamacare in place as they can,” says the Club for Growth in explaining its new $1 million television advertising campaign that takes aim at 10 “moderate” Republicans for being soft on repeal.

The Club’s analysis of the problem is straightforward – what’s wrong with the debate about how to destroy America’s health care is that some Republicans don’t want to destroy it enough. Specifically, the extremist Republicans in the Freedom Caucus want to repeal every bit of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) they can, but some of their colleagues are standing in the way because they want to protect people’s health care.

That’s why the Club for Growth has hit the airwaves – to build support for a repeal bill by targeting the so-called moderates in the Republican Conference. But the bill is getting worse all the time, thanks to a deal being negotiated by Vice President Pence and the hardline conservatives who want to take away America’s health care.

Under the latest deal, insurance companies would be able to charge whatever they want to people with pre-existing conditions, and they’d be able to sell junk health insurance – policies that take your money but barely offer any coverage in exchange. Here are three specific provisions that the conservatives want their moderate colleagues to swallow:

  • Insurance companies would be allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions whatever they want. The Trump/GOP proposal guts the protection against health insurers hiking premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Insurers could sell barebones insurance that doesn’t require any coverage. This would allow companies to not cover hospitals, doctors, prescriptions, lab tests, mental health, maternity and newborn care, preventive care, and substance abuse. There’s a reason these are called “essential health benefits” in the existing law.
  • Insurance companies would be allowed to cap how much they pay for your care. Eliminating essential health benefits also eliminates the prohibition on health insurance companies putting annual or lifetime limits on how much they pay for your care.

The Republicans want to go backwards – way backwards – back to the days when we were all at the mercy of the big insurance companies, the days when you could lose your coverage because you got sick, be denied coverage altogether because you had a health care condition, or be forced to pay eye-popping premiums for coverage because you actually needed health care.

One of the big achievements of the ACA was an end to the biggest consumer abuses by the insurance industry, including discrimination based on age, gender and health status. And it’s these protections – and many more – that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are going after.

Meanwhile, just like the bill that didn’t have enough support to pass in March, the latest GOP proposal would take health care away from 24 million people, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs for all families in order to give $465 billion in tax cuts to the very wealthy and the big insurance and drug companies. It will blow a hole in state budgets so the wealthiest 400 Americans can get a tax break of $7 million a year. It will allow companies to charge older people five times as much as younger consumers and increase costs for people in their 50s and 60s by thousands of dollars a year.

Over the April recess, Republicans have been overwhelmed by the public uprising in support of Obamacare. Thousands have been turning out at town halls, the ACA is at its most popular ever, and the Republican bill has the support of only 17 percent of Americans.

Hopefully, when Republican lawmakers return to Washington, DC next week, they’ll remember what it was like to be home, and how much worse it will be if they vote to take away people’s health care.