Republican Compares Pre-Existing Conditions To Car Crashes

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One of the sticking points for many in the Republican health care bill is the manner in which it treats people with pre-existing conditions. It's complex, but essentially, the GOP plan indirectly allows insurance companies to deny comprehensive health coverage to people with preexisting conditions — a practice banned under Obamacare. Sen. Ron Johnson said that this is perfectly OK, and to explain why, on Sunday's Meet the Press, the Wisconsin Republican compared having pre-existing conditions to causing car accidents.

We've done something with our healthcare system that you never even think about doing, for example, with auto insurance, where you'd require auto insurance companies to sell a policy to somebody after they crashed their car. States that have enacted guaranteed issue, which is the guarantee for preexisting conditions, it crashes their markets. It causes these markets to collapse, it causes premiums to skyrocket.

Johnson's argument appears to be that people who have preexisting conditions should pay more for health insurance, just as people who crash their cars should pay more for auto insurance. But millions of Americans have preexisting conditions through absolutely no fault of their own. For example, a partial list of health issues that were considered pre-existing conditions prior to Obamacare includes cancer, multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson's disease, sleep apnea, and depression.

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Sen. Johnson is implying that folks with these ailments are just as much to blame for their suffering as are people who crash their cars. Nobody knows what causes illnesses like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's, and as such, there's no known way to avoid them.

Analogies like the one the senator used imply that being healthy or unhealthy is simply a matter of personal responsibility. But as doctors have pointed out, while personal behavioral choices can prevent some illnesses, they can't prevent all of them. There are loads of health problems that aren't avoidable, because doctors still don't know what causes them. Deadly ailments are often both unforeseeable and unavoidable, which is why Obamacare required that people with them have access to health care.

However, several Republicans seem to believe the same sentiment as Johnson: In early May, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks said health care should be cheaper for those who lead "good lives" and have done things "the right way."