The Upton Amendment in the revised Republican health care bill isn’t protection for people with preexisting conditions is a declaration of war on cancer patients that will force them into underfunded high-risk pools.
The latest Republican attempt to disguise their $1 trillion cut to health care as coverage involves throwing $8 billion at people to help them pay for preexisting conditions, but as opponents of the legislation are pointing out, the money is a giveaway to insurance companies that won’t help people with preexisting conditions. The Upton Amendment will help a few hundred thousand people in a country where tens of millions of people have preexisting conditions.
According to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, “If you waive the community rating requirement in the ACA, insurers will charge people with pre-existing conditions astronomical premiums to make sure they’re priced out of the market entirely. $8 billion sounds like a lot of money. But, spread over five years and the potentially millions of people with pre-existing conditions in the individual market with a gap in insurance who would face very high premiums, it won’t go very far.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s answer to people with cancer and other pre-existing conditions is that they can join state-run high-risk pools.
The New York Times talked to cancer patients about their experiences in high-risk pools:
In the past, even the state high-risk pools proved an unaffordable solution to many people. Janice Elks, 50, a small-business owner in Omaha, had cervical cancer and suffered from neuropathy when she looked for a policy. “I could not get insurance at all, of any type, for years,” she said. “I would apply over and over.”
Her only option was Nebraska’s high-risk pool. Ms. Elks calculated it would cost her about $15,000 in premiums a year for a policy, while her medical expenses amounted to only a few thousand dollars a year for her seizure medications and some steroid shots. She now pays just $640 a month.
The Upton amendment is a political mirage designed to fool people into believing that they are going to get assistance that is never going to exist. The Republican goal has always been to get sick people out of the health care system by forcing them to pay more.
Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has correctly labeled the GOP plan a real death panel, “The proposed Upton amendment is like administering cough medicine to someone with stage 4 cancer. This Republican amendment leaves Americans with preexisting conditions as vulnerable as they were before under this bill. High-risk pools are the real death panels: they mean waiting forever in line for unaffordable health insurance.”
The Upton amendment isn’t going to provide more health care. It is going to make it easier for Republicans to vote to take it away.
If the Republican legislation passes, insurance companies will become death panels, and their primary targets will be millions of Americans with cancer and other pre-existing conditions.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association