WHMI: While Bishop Celebrates Defeat Of Obamacare, Activists Blast "Broken Promise"

http://whmi.com/news/article/28350

A group is targeting Livingston County’s congressman, saying he broke a pledge to protect patients who suffer from preexisting conditions when he supported the new Republican health care plan. 

The Republican push to replace the Affordable Care Act was revived this week in Congress by a change to their plan designed to combat concerns over coverage for those with preexisting health problems. The GOP replacement health care bill squeaked by the House 217-213 on Thursday. Republican Congressman Mike Bishop voted yes on the plan. 

The group Indivisible Michigan - District 8 is "blasting Congressman Mike Bishop for breaking a pledge to protect patients who suffer from preexisting conditions" The group alleges he went back on his promise to “ensure patients with preexisting conditions have important protections beyond Obamacare.” The group says the new plan guts protections for preexisting conditions like cancer, diabetes and asthma. It further alleges the legislation would also cause health care costs to skyrocket while reducing the quality of coverage. 

Bishop, who joined with other House Republicans at a celebratory event at the White House with President Trump, says since the bill’s inception, they’ve made it a priority to strengthen protections for patients with preexisting conditions. By incentivizing individuals to maintain coverage, Bishop says insurers will not be able to deny, rescind, or raise the cost of coverage for a patient with preexisting conditions.  

The changes that were made helped get the bill through the House but experts say it may make little difference in the hunt for affordable coverage for patients. The bill proposes setting aside $8 (B) billion over five years to help states cover those who may be subject to higher insurance rates because they've had a lapse in coverage. Analysts say that's not enough to guarantee an affordable alternative for those who are now covered because the Affordable Care Act prevents insurers from rejecting people or charging higher rates based on their health. The American Medical Association and AARP came out against the bill, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Retail Federation expressing support. House Republicans were also criticized for voting on the bill before the Congressional Budget Office could publish an analysis of what effects the legislation will have.

Bishop defends the bill, saying “Waivers are already available to states that wish to set up their own insurance markets" and that states "will have more tools and flexibility in terms of Medicaid." He added that the, "legislation cuts more than $1 trillion in taxes that have crushed the American people and broken the backs of small businesses that drive our economy. Lifting this burden allows Main Street to improve wages, hire more people and expand operations."

But for people like Lansing resident Gary Ferris, a member of the Indivisible Michigan group, Bishop's vote in support was a vote, "to throw people with preexisting conditions under the bus...As someone with diabetes and asthma, I know firsthand how hard it used to be to find insurance. This bill will bring us back to the days when insurance and prescription drug companies were put first. This bill is going to make it even harder for people like me to pay for our prescription drugs, like the insulin prescription I need to live." Ferris added that, "With this vote, he let us know that politics are more important than our health care."

The bill's pathway through the U.S. Senate is anything but assured. Senators are already talking about preventing some of the House bill's Medicaid cuts. Some don't like its easing of Obama coverage requirements on insurers, and others think its tax credits must be redirected toward lower-income people.

BishopSarah DohlMI