CNN host Chris Cuomo questioned New York Rep. Tom Reed on his vote for the American Health Care Act following a contentious town hall in which Reed told a child that the Affordable Care Act’s preexisting conditions protections were also in the GOP’s replacement bill.
“It is going to continue, you will have access to health insurance just as you do today,” Reed told the child.
Cuomo followed up with Reed on his remarks.
“How do you believe you are standing with individuals like that teenager if you remove the guarantee that preexisting conditions get covered?” he said.
Reed denied that the bill scrapped Obamacare’s preexisting conditions mandate.
“That’s the misinformation. When you read the bill like we have, and study the bill … the preexisting guaranteed issue is still cornerstone reform as we go forward. And with the waiver opportunity, that comes down — it only can get better as I read the bill and the text of it,” Reed said.
The American Health Care Act, the GOP’s replacement for the law known as Obamacare, includes an amendment that would allow states to waive Obamacare’s preexisting conditions requirement. They could only do so if they provided some funding for people with preexisting conditions to get coverage, participate in the “invisible high-risk pools” established by the AHCA, or “provide incentives to appropriate entities” to “stabilise premiums.”
Republicans have championed state high-risk pools as a viable option to bolster the ACA’s preexisting conditions protections. But their effectiveness has been sharply contested, with critics saying the sickest and oldest citizens would likely see their healthcare costs skyrocket. Research has also disputed the effectiveness of high-risk pools when they have been implemented in the past.
Cuomo also grilled Reed about the GOP’s decision to dismantle Obamacare instead of fixing its problems.
“Now, there is no question that there are problems with some of the individual marketplace venues,” Cuomo said. “And there’s a good argument to be made as to why your party refused to do anything to address any of those, waiting for an opportunity to kill the ACA instead of fixing it.”
“But you know that many people don’t maintain coverage … that would make them vulnerable if a state took a waiver” to the preexisting conditions requirements, Cuomo added. “And we both know that companies, given an option , will not cover preexisting conditions if they’re told they don’t have to. Why ignore those possibilities?”
“Because we have to look over the horizon and provide for flexibility at the state level to come up with innovative ways that could improve upon it,” Reed said. He did not specifically address the question of healthcare lapses for certain people with preexisting conditions.
Cuomo and Reed also went back and forth about the effectiveness of cutting $US880 billion out of the healthcare system and how that might affect coverage.
“Pulling money out of the system has never been shown to be a way to improve coverage in terms of how many people will be getting care,” Cuomo said. “You’re pulling $US880 billion out of it over about a decade period. How is that going to help?”
“That is one of the fundamental issues we have in the disagreement to the other side,” Reed said in response. “The other side assumes putting money in the situation solves the problem. I believe in flexibility and innovation in the market. Allow people to provide them choices. That allows the dollars to be more efficient and provide access to care to millions that don’t have it today.”
But Cuomo said the GOP’s healthcare bill doesn’t just cut funding from programs like Medicaid — which serves primarily low-income Americans — but that it also gives steep tax breaks to the country’s wealthiest.
“I don’t understand why the GOP doesn’t just own it and say we will put less money in it,” Cuomo said. “And say, ‘Yes, we’re going to put less money into it. Yes, some people may not get covered the same they are now. But we think it is worth it. It will help fund our tax cuts.'”
Watch part of the exchange below:
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