Preexisting Prevarication
David Catron
by

Joe Manchin poses as a moderate. Yet, to save his Senate seat, he has resorted to the same sordid tactics employed by his most radical Democrat accomplices. Facing a serious challenge from Republican Patrick Morrisey in a state that President Trump carried by 42 percent in 2016, Manchin is telling his West Virginia constituents that Republicans want to take away their health care. Recently, for example, Manchin told a group in Beckley that 800,000 West Virginians are in danger of losing their medical coverage because the GOP has evil designs on Obamacare’s protections involving preexisting conditions. Senator Manchin is lying.

Even if the Republicans actually wanted to take away protections for preexisting conditions, a claim which has no basis in reality, the number of people who could theoretically be affected across the entire nation would be well under half the figure Senator Manchin claims will lose their coverage in the Mountain State alone. How do we know that the actual number of people likely to be affected by any coverage change involving preexisting conditions is far smaller than Manchin’s figures? We have data gathered from a program set up under Obamacare itself. In a paper published a few months ago, the Heritage Foundation explains:

The ACA created a temporary national high risk pool program — called the Preexisting Condition Insurance Program (PCIP) — that operated between 2010 and 2014. Enrollment in the PCIP peaked at 114,000 individuals.… Thus, about 340,000 state and federal high-risk pool enrollees were added to the individual market in the first [three] years of ACA implementation.

Manchin knows this, but he’d rather lie than lose his Senate seat. And he is by no means the only “moderate” Democrat to deploy these scare tactics in the cause of keeping his plump posterior firmly planted in the Senate. Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, who is facing a challenge by well-financed Republican Mike Braun in a state that Donald Trump won by 19 points in 2016, has also denounced the President and his administration for conspiring to deprive Americans with preexisting conditions of their health coverage. A week after sidling up to Trump at the “Right to Try” signing ceremony, Senator Donnelly issued the following statement:

We should not go back to the days when insurance companies could deny health care coverage to Hoosiers with preexisting conditions or charge women more for care.… I’ve long said, we should work together to make health care more affordable and stabilize the markets, and I urge the Administration to stop undermining and sabotaging our health care system.

Does President Trump advocate going back “to the days when insurance companies could deny health care coverage to Hoosiers with preexisting conditions”? Of course not. In fact, it’s a myth that millions were denied insurance for that reason before Obamacare. In those days, insurance regulations didn’t permit such denials where most Americans got their health plans — via their employers or through public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Some people were denied in the individual market, but most had recourse to state-run high-risk pools. Nationally, they covered about 225,000 patients until Obamacare came along and screwed it up:

Prior to implementation of the ACA, most states operated subsidized high-risk pools for people denied coverage in the individual health insurance market. With the implementation of the ACA exchanges and subsidies, almost all of those high-risk pool enrollees transitioned into the individual market.

In other words, these high-risk pools were shut down and the patients were dumped into Obamacare exchanges where the cost of covering them doubled. Moreover, every GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare has had some mechanism, usually involving state-run high-risk pools, to protect people with preexisting conditions. The President is ready and willing to sign any reasonable repeal and replace bill, rendering ridiculous the claim that he wants to eliminate protections for preexisting conditions. But that hasn’t stopped North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, yet another endangered Democrat in a deep red state from telling that very whopper:

The administration should stop playing games with the health and wellbeing of North Dakotans with serious and chronic illnesses — and I’ll keep pushing for commonsense, bipartisan ways to keep more North Dakotans insured, prevent skyrocketing health care increases for the elderly, and protect our friends and neighbors with preexisting conditions.

Why, if neither the President nor Congress has any plan to eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions, do endangered Democratic Senators like Heitkamp, Donnelly, and Manchin persist in claiming otherwise? It’s all about a 20-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, combined with the President’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS. Heitkamp, Donnelly, and Manchin badly want to vote against Kavanaugh but they can’t appear to cave in to pressure from the Democratic leadership because they pose as independent-thinking moderates who don’t dance to the tune of people like people Chuck Schumer.

Kavanaugh’s nomination and the Trump administration’s decision not to defend Obamacare in Texas v. United States provide them with a handy pretext to vote against the President’s nominee. They can still masquerade as moderates yet claim that the Supreme Court is in danger of being taken over by a “conservative majority” that will inevitably strike down the health care law — along with its protections relating to preexisting conditions. This will make it possible to present a vote against Kavanaugh as an act of heroism. Thus, they are lying about the number of people who will truly be “harmed” if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to replace Justice Kennedy.

The goal of these endangered Democratic Senators, and membership in that not-so-prestigious clique is by no means limited to those discussed above, is to scare their moderate constituents into accepting a party line vote without punishing them at the ballot box. Consequently, these charlatans are attempting to fool the folks back home with phony defiance of their party’s leaders. Joe Manchin, for example, claims that he will react to any pressure from Schumer by telling him, “kiss my you know what.” This is pure theater. If Manchin can get away with it, he and the rest will vote on behalf of those whose wishes they really care about — their Beltway masters.

David Catron
David Catron
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David Catron is a health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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