“I take offense to anyone who would suggest that I would vote not to protect those with pre-existing conditions.”
– Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, during a debate in Spokane on Oct. 18,
Jan 19, 2011 – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, voted “aye” on the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.
The bill was a root-and-branch repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which had become law the year before. The ACA, or Obamacare, was a large, complicated law, but one of its signature characteristics was providing a series of protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In essence, Obamacare for the first time made it illegal for insurers to charge sick people more for insurance or to deny them coverage.
Prior to the passage of that law, insurers could – and did – do both.
The repeal would have returned the market to its previous state. It would by definition have removed the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It passed the House and was never taken up in the Senate.
Neither it – nor the many repeal votes that followed – were accompanied by an alternative proposal regarding the protection of people with pre-existing conditions.
April 15, 2011 – McMorris Rodgers voted in favor of the House budget, which would have repealed and defunded the ACA. That budget was not taken up in the Senate.
March 29, 2012 – McMorris Rodgers voted on another budget that would have repealed and defunded the ACA. The budget was not taken up in the Senate.
July 11, 2012 – Following the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of most of the ACA, the House voted again to repeal the law.
McMorris Rodgers voted yes. It was never passed in the Senate.
March 21, 2013 – McMorris Rodgers voted yes on a House budget that would have fully repealed and defunded the law.
May 16, 2013 – Another full-scale repeal of Obamacare passed the House and went no further. McMorris Rodgers voted in favor.
Aug. 2, 2013 – The House took up the Keep The IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013. This bill would have knee-capped the ACA by prohibiting the IRS from implementing or enforcing any part of the law.
This time, McMorris Rodgers voted against it. Kidding! Just kidding! She voted for it.
These seven votes for repeal – with no concrete proposal to provide protections for people with pre-existing conditions – were just the tip of a never-ending nay-berg that McMorris Rodgers and her House colleagues mounted against the ACA.
Many of these other votes were not full repeals, but were efforts to knock the legs out from under the law in smaller, more targeted ways.
On and On. Repeals, big and small. Delays and defundings.
McMorris Rodgers voted for those, too.
Feb. 16, 2017 – With the election of President Trump, actual repeal of the ACA seemed imminent. After years of political wrangling over the law, it had become clear that protections for people with pre-existing conditions was a popular part of the law. So McMorris Rodgers and others sponsored the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act of 2017.
This legislation would have preserved the ACA protections for sick people: Insurers would be required to cover pre-existing conditions, and could not deny sick people coverage or charge them more based on their health status.
It perished in a House committee.
McMorris Rodgers does not tout this legislation on the campaign trail when she defends her record on pre-existing conditions. I’ve never heard her bring it up in an interview or debate, not even once. Which is probably because of what happened on …
May 4, 2017 – The House passed the American Health Care Act. The act would have maintained the pre-existing coverage protections of the ACA – except in certain circumstances.
Under the AHCA, states could have applied for waivers from the requirements if they set up alternative high-risk pools to provide coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. (Repeated analysis of the legislation concluded that such pools were vastly underfunded and wouldn’t work as advertised.)
If states sought such waivers, they could allow insurers to charge people more based on their health status – precisely what the February legislation would have outlawed. Sick people could also be charged higher premiums for a year if their coverage lapsed.
It would not have been a wholesale elimination of such protections. The actual impact would have depended on how many states sought such waivers. But in a nation where lots of states, such as Idaho, have refused to go along with the ACA’s Medicaid expansion – though it leaves thousands of their citizens without health insurance – it’s easy to imagine that many states would have done so. And it’s certain that, with the door cracked open, insurers would rush to return to health-status pricing everywhere they could.
The Congressional Budget Office concluded that this one aspect of the AHCA could create unstable markets that worsen over time for people with pre-existing conditions.
“Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with pre-existing or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all,” the CBO concluded.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted for that.
She’s going to be so offended when she finds out.
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