National liberal blog ThinkProgress throws us a link discussing GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's
new recycled health care proposal, as introduced reintroduced yesterday:
Republican senate candidate Rep. Cory Garnder (CO) — who has previously argued that guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions should not be included in health care reform — has introduced a measure that seeks to extend insurance to sick people after the Affordable Care Act is repealed. There are just two major problems: the legislation relies on a mechanism that is already included in the existing law and has failed to provide affordable coverage to sicker beneficiaries.
Gardner’s H.R. 4496, Covering People With Pre-Existing Conditions Act of 2014, was introduced on Monday and would compel states to establish or expand existing insurance access programs — commonly called high risk pools — for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The pools would be required to offer at least two coverage options and “limit the pool premiums to no more than 150 percent of the average premium for applicable standard risk rates in that State.”
Earlier this month, discussing Ken Buck's health care plan which similarly rejects the Affordable Care Act's requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered, we discussed the Republican alternative proposal to expand state-based "high risk pools" like Colorado's own Cover Colorado plan. ThinkProgress' parent organization, the Center for American Progress, studied high risk pools and determined they aren't a viable option compared to the ACA's coverage of pre-existing conditions. What's more,
The ACA offered a similar solution until 2014. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was designed as a bridge to the exchanges for families and individuals who didn’t have an offer of coverage from an employer and could not find insurance in the individual market…
But insuring large groups of sick people proved very expensive and as PCIP enrollment increased, federal officials began to fear that that they would exhaust the appropriated funds. In January 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “instituted benefit changes that shifted more costs onto PCIP enrollees, including by increasing enrollee coinsurance from 20 percent to 30 percent in many states” and ultimately stopped enrolling new beneficiaries.
The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was extended for a few months to compensate for the troubled rollout of the health insurance exchanges, but it's clear that not only is this not a workable long-term solution for covering sick Americans, even as a stopgap measure this coverage was prohibitively expensive. Gardner's plan is just as cash-hungry:
Though Gardner’s proposal appears to fund the pools at higher level than PCIP ($15,000,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2015 through 2024; and an additional $10,000,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2020 through 2024) his program would charge sick people more than the federal program and is unlikely to remain solvent of the long-term. According to a 2008 report from the Tax Policy Center, using high-risk pools “to prevent large losses in insurance coverage among the sick and needy could be extremely expensive—on the order of $1 trillion over ten years given projected health care costs.”
And here's what could be the most ironic part–a similar proposal was introduced by GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor just last year. And as Politico's Jake Sherman reported, it didn't go so well.
House Republican leadership abruptly pulled a health care bill from the floor after concerns from conservatives that it extended President Barack Obama’s health care law. The legislation, which was championed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, had opposition from all corners of the conservative universe. [Pols emphasis]
It’s a blow to the Virginia Republican, who touted the “Helping Sick Americans Now Act” and visited the Republican Study Committee meeting Wednesday to try to move votes.
The legislation attempts to transfer money from what Republicans call a “slush fund” — it’s actually a preventative disease account — to create high-risk pools for sick Americans.
In short, what we have here is a repackaged deficient "Obamacare alternative," which was temporarily part of Obamacare until the new law took full effect–and which couldn't even pass the GOP-controlled House last year because conservatives wouldn't support it. This bill is DOA coming and going, and Cory Gardner knows it.
So what exactly is the point, you ask? That's easy–distracting voters just long enough to win an election.