Source: Deseret News
Politicians are notorious for making promises. Their campaigns and time in office are full of grandiose visions they claim will only come to fruition if elected or re-elected. However, most of the promises politicians carelessly make during their stump speeches eventually run into the realities of the political process, unforeseen consequences, or directly conflicting promises. It’s about time we all look inward and ask why we keep believing the promises of politicians.
Making promises of her own, Rep. Mia Love defended her support for the Republican House’s then-failing American Health Care Act during a March “tele-town hall” (aka moderated conference call). She promised that the bill would not eliminate Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions. Personalizing this position, Love said this protection was essential for her brother’s insurance, having been recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Beyond pre-existing conditions, Love promised that her goal was to give “people access to health care that need it and want it.”
One is left to wonder whether Love remembered these promises as she voted in favor of the AHCA a few weeks ago along with the rest of Utah’s members of the House. Based on an op-ed Love recently wrote for the Deseret News, she seems to feel she stayed true. However, looking at what the AHCA actually does, it is clear to see that, once again, Love has made another set of broken promises.
In her op-ed, Love repeated her promise that pre-existing conditions will continue to be protected under the AHCA. Taken at face value, this is true, the bill still prohibits insurers from denying coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. However, any real analysis of the AHCA, when married with basic economics, will demonstrate that any such protection is in form only, not in substance.
Gone would be the days where a person with a pre-existing condition would be guaranteed access to health insurance on the same terms as everyone else. Instead, states could choose to begin siphoning off these individuals into separate programs, including high-risk pools. The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated these state waivers could affect the insurance of 6.3 million Americans, resulting in higher premiums if they are unable to maintain continuous coverage. Love’s claim that pre-existing conditions will still be protected is nothing more than verbal gamesmanship.
Love also made promises to women — promises that are, once again, nice to hear but are hollow inside. Many conditions experienced only by women, including cesarean sections, could lead to higher premiums if states sought waivers from community rating. States could also choose to define the essential health benefits for insurance plans in their states, potentially leading to the loss of maternity and screening services for even employer-based plans. Women will not be protected under this bill.
Now to be fair, Love is not breaking her promises to everyone. She did fulfill the promise she had made to vote to repeal and replace the AHCA. But at what cost? By voting to gut pre-existing condition protections, undermine essential health benefits, cut $880 billion from Medicaid and repeal the individual mandate, Love has chosen to throw tens of thousands of Utahns and 24 million Americans under the bus while lowering the quality of coverage for everyone else. All this for the opportunity of giving a tremendous tax break to the wealthiest Americans and corporations. How exactly does this give “people access to health care that need it and want it?”
Over 200 years of broken promises will not be resolved by politicians alone. Only when voters start truly holding their elected officials accountable at the ballot box will politicians know that there is a cost to making promises they do not intend to keep. In the meantime, Love should remember who she works for — her brother, the kids in her op-ed, and the hundreds of thousands of constituents who depend on affordable health coverage for their well-being and their very lives.
Read Deseret News article here.