Monday night's debate on CNN is set to reveal where the Republican party stands with its latest effort to replace and repeal Obamacare. Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham authorized the bill known as the Graham-Cassidy, which appears to be the complete antithesis of the Affordable Care Act and the provisions stipulated under it. Although both senators claim that the bill will give Americans and their regional states more autonomy, analysts fear that the latest GOP move will hurt millions of Americans. In fact, one moment from the Graham-Cassidy debate focused on pre-existing conditions and what exactly the Republican party plans to do with such patients.
During an unexpectedly emotional part of the debate, a father and daughter rose to ask Cassidy what the Republican party's bill planned to do with patients who have pre-existing conditions. The father, Kevin Potter, claimed that his accompanying young daughter had leukemia, so he wondered where the Graham-Cassidy bill stood on the matter.
Potter from Ohio said, "Senator Cassidy, can you tell my daughter tonight how you plan to absolutely guarantee her that she will never be subject to exorbitant premiums that would make [medical] coverage impossible? So far I can tell based on every analysis your proposal strips that essential guarantee from her and millions like her with pre-existing conditions."
"First I admire your courage, oh my gosh," said Cassidy. "So young [and] dealing with so much. I've treated folks like you. My hats off. The way I'm trying to keep you from exorbitant premiums is to try and replace Obamacare." The senator went on to narrate the experiences of people he knew who had paid "$39,000" per year for coverage. "That's exorbitant," Cassidy said.
The town hall's audience, however, seemed unconvinced by Cassidy. "People are shaking their heads. [The details are] on my Facebook page. Check it out." Cassidy said that the Republican party planned to do is "get the states the resources. If a state sets up a reinsurance pool, they can actually keep you in the main insurance pool but otherwise lower the premium." Cassidy claimed that such a move was implemented in Maine and "lowered premiums by 20 percent for everybody."
Cassidy was referring to a health care move adopted by Maine in 2012 till 2014. The way the program worked in Maine was considered a "great theory" by health policy consultants because it made medical assistance apparently convenient for patients. Before getting medical coverage, a patient was required to answer several queries in a questionnaire. The survey would determine the gravity of the patient's medical situation and allot them accordingly to a regular pool or a high-risk rool. Regardless of the pool, the patient would get the same coverage at the regular rate.
It worked in Maine, according to health policy analysts, simply because it was well-funded. But analysts note that the Republicans' iteration of a health care bill is the opposite in terms of monetary backing, and subsequently it would be damaging to patients. Maine's health care idea, thus, would not work for the Graham-Cassidy bill.
There's also the need to understand reinsurance. The primary objective of reinsurance is to keep premiums at a financially level that is affordable to enrollees who enjoy good health generally. In a reinsurance plan, government subsidies are paid to insurance companies so that the medical expenditure for patients who need extensive care is substantially covered.
Preliminary assessments from liberal think tanks like The Center for American Progress say that the GOP's replace and repeal Obamacare efforts will only exacerbate the health of those with pre-existing conditions and cause surges in premiums. Cassidy's reassurance may appear relieving on the surface but from the perspective of financially implementing such a plan, it doesn't seem to add up.