Ryan: People With Pre-Existing Conditions Are ‘Better Off’ With GOP Plan

UNITED STATES - APRIL 26: Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on April 26, 2017. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., also appear. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQPHO

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) asserted Thursday that people with pre-existing conditions would be better off under Republicans’ amended health care bill.

An amendment penned by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) would allow states to waive Obamacare’s community ratings for health status, which currently prevent insurers from charging higher prices for consumers with health problems including pre-existing conditions.

Moderate Republicans are still largely hesitant to back the effort, though they are beginning to feel the pressure from their party.

Ryan said at a press briefing Thursday that the amendment would give states the option to waive community ratings, “while maintaining and preserving protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

“Every state’s a little different,” he said. “In Wisconsin, we had a high-risk pool that worked really well, and I think we ought to be given the kind of flexibility to tailor our markets that work for us in Wisconsin, because the Wisconsin health care system’s different than say the New York health care system or the Vermont health care system.”

He later said that there were “multiple laters of pre-existing condition protections, like continuous coverage. If you have a health care problem and you have health insurance, you can’t be denied or raided for higher health care costs, and if you switch your plan, and you keep your coverage, the same protections apply, even if your state gets a waiver.”

Still, if patients don’t maintain continuous health care coverage — if they go at least 63 days without coverage in the year prior to applying for a new plan — insurers would be able to charge them higher costs.

“People will be better off with pre-existing conditions under our plan,” Ryan said. “That’s the whole goal, is to make it easier for people — the problem with Obamacare is people get one choice, at best, in a third of all the counties in America. Five states, you’ve got one plan to choose from. That’s not very good to have just a monopoly giving you health insurance.”

Republicans have staked their argument for the overhaul effort on the assertion that de-regulating the insurance market will incentivize more insurers to offer different levels of care, at different prices.

“Our job here is to make sure that people get more choices, and by getting more choices, you can get better quality health insurance and lower prices, and we preserve those protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” he continued. “That’s the goal of this bill. That’s what this bill achieves. And we think it’s going to be a big improvement on the status quo, which is collapsing before us.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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