Is Zeldin Untruthful about Healthcare?

In a recent OpEd in the Riverhead Local, Lee Zeldin asserts:

“We must also improve health care on Long Island as a top priority”

And this week, Rep. Lee Zeldin released an op-ed he said is meant to address “the misinformation campaign targeting the American Health Care Act.” Here, are Zeldin’s own words followed by my comments.

“Obamacare has resulted in higher premiums, higher deductibles, lost doctors, and canceled policies, among many other challenges…”  “We must also improve health care on Long Island as a top priority. Obamacare has been nothing short of a disaster for countless hardworking families and our economy. This flawed law has resulted in higher deductibles, higher premiums, canceled policies, fewer choices and lost doctors, among many other challenges.

Response: The Republicans in Congress have made it their No 1 priority to sabotage Obamacare since 2009. If you want to improve something, you don’t go about sabotaging it!

“Obamacare has resulted in higher premiums, higher deductibles, lost doctors, and canceled policies, among many other challenges…”

Response: Higher premiums and deductibles have multiple causes. They have been going up for many years and guess what, they will continue to go up, even more so under AHCA compared with ACA, and especially for the old, and the sick. Only the young and healthy may see some temporary relief. The issue about the insurances pulling out of certain markets is due to congressional resistance to support those insurances as called for originally under Obamacare via so-called “risk corridors”. It was Sen. Marco Rubio who scuttled risk corridors. The main point is that the risk-reducing features were never put to work. When Republicans state that premiums, co-pays, deductibles are rising — well here is the main reason.

Marco Rubio Quietly Undermines Affordable Care Act

Non-payment of funds promised to the insurance companies is simply more sabotage. Of course, they will leave a program that Congress is not supporting. Likewise for docs, if you don’t make it worth they’re while they won’t participate. All of these were fixable problems.

“Under the American Health Care Act, the individual and employer mandates are being removed, Obamacare’s taxes are almost entirely eliminated — over $800 billion in tax relief — and there will be more choices, competition, and affordability than under current law, while continuing to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ policy as they can under current law. This is one important step of a three-step process to ensure a smooth transition to a better reality for health care in our country”

Response: Basic household economics tells you that this is impossible: get rid of all moneys/taxes that are meant to fund Obamacare and simultaneously provide “more choices, competition, and affordability” – that just does not add up.   So what is missing from this equation: perhaps 24 Mio people losing health care insurance? Perhaps getting all chronically ill (expensive) and older patients off of health care and just allowing them to die? Zeldin’s constituents can see right through this.

“There is so much misinformation being circulated on this bill…Here are some specific facts to set the record straight regarding untruthful claims …”

Is it true that under the current plan Members of Congress will be exempt? No. At the same exact time the American Health Care Act was passed in the House of Representatives, the House also passed legislation. or H.R. 2192, to make it crystal clear that members of Congress would not receive any special treatment whatsoever.

Response: LZ is WRONG. Congress did exempt itself and here is why: The House passed the American Health Care Act with the exemption intact after first passing a separate bill that would repeal the exemption that would be created by the AHCA if both bills became law. That sounds crazy. Here is the reason. Republicans are attempting to pass the AHCA through a process called reconciliation. This process, created by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, allows the Senate to pass certain bills relating to the federal budget with just a simple majority. There is no need to get 60 votes, i.e. democratic support.

Is it true that the American Health Care Act changes the definition of pre-existing conditions? No.

Response: Prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusion periods is not changed. But short term non-renewable policies can continue to exclude pre-existing conditions.

Is it true that under the American Health Care Act, 310,000 NY-1 residents with pre-existing conditions will lose their health insurance? Not within a million degrees of accuracy in any way, shape or form.

Response: I don’t know where this comes from!

A perhaps more accurate and alarming set of predicted numbers for NY CD-1 are as follows:

1) The uninsured rate has gone from 9.5% to 5.6% under the ACA – this could be reversed

2) 423,300 likely to lose cancer screenings and flu shots currently covered by ACA

3) 482,000 with employer-sponsored insurance, likely to lose protection against annual and lifetime limits, protection against unfair policy rescissions, and coverage of preexisting health conditions

4) 23,100 who have purchased high quality Marketplace coverage now stand to lose their coverage as ACA marketplaces are dismantled

5) 4,700 individuals in the district who received financial assistance to purchase Marketplace coverage in 2016, risk that coverage will become unaffordable when premium tax credits are eliminated

6) 1,600 individuals receiving cost-sharing reductions to help with deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance, now at risk as cost-sharing reductions are eliminated

7) 41,800 individuals covered by Medicaid expansion now stand to lose coverage

LZ gives no references and has no data for example from OMB – rather than loose talk about “million degrees of accurate” perhaps it would be wise to get some official predictions by experts?

Is it true that in New York insurers will be able to charge people more if they have a pre-existing condition? No. New Yorkers with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health insurance coverage for their pre-existing condition and cannot be charged more for their pre-existing condition.

ResponseUhm? Not so fast. The blast of organized and grass-roots energy in opposition to the bill had all been generated by one measure, added to the legislation to assure its passage, that allowed states to seek federal waivers to ignore certain mandates in the Affordable Care Act — including the one blocking insurance companies from charging people more because of pre-existing conditions:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/us/politics/republican-health-care-bill-pre-existing-conditions.html?_r=0

“But what if New York asks for a waiver? New York is not asking for a waiver, but even if it did, New Yorkers still cannot be denied health insurance coverage for their pre-existing condition and as long as they maintain continuous coverage without a lapse for more than 63 days then they cannot be charged more either. Even if there is a lapse for more than 63 days, states remain required to protect people with pre-existing conditions to ensure they have access to affordable policies, which comes with financial help from the federal government. It is hysteria to claim that people with pre-existing conditions are not protected even if the protection is a little different than in non-waiver states.

Response: So now LZ is guaranteeing what the State will do in the future? His “friend” Gov. Cuomo, perhaps? People lose jobs, people get divorced, etc. and that means people may have a lapse of coverage and not be able to get affordable coverage within 63 days. This is not far fetched. I know someone who lost her coverage after a divorce and got cancer 3 months later and went broke paying USD 400,000 for her chemotherapy.  Why play Russian Roulette with people’s lives?

Is it true that there was no Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, score for the American Health Care Act? No. The CBO has already weighed in on almost this entire bill.

Response: Wrong again. http://www.snopes.com/cbo-ahca-score/

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed during a press briefing on 4 May 2017 that the bill hadn’t yet been scored when the House voted on it, saying:

Look, I think even if they were to score it it’s impossible to score a lot of the things that would go into this because it has so many different factors that you simply can’t predict what governors may do in their states, specific conditions that patients may have.

So even if it was to be scored, I think it would be impossible to predict how that might actually affect and impact.

CBO did score previous iterations of the bill on 13 March and 23 March and both times determined that if passed as-is, both versions would have resulted in increased numbers of people lacking health insurance in comparison with the current legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Is it true that no one actually read the bill? No. Speaking for myself, I sure did. It’s only 138 pages long. Three amendments were added last week, and I read those myself before the vote.”

Response: No comment on whether he read the bill.  But I don’t care whether he read it or not.  I want professionals to weigh in.  Professionals that study health care policies and nothing else.  It is astounding that every professional organization representing patients, doctors, nurses, and hospitals have been highly critical of AHCA/Trumpcare. So who cares whether he read it or not.

 

 

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About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College
This entry was posted in AHCA, Uncategorized, Zeldin and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Is Zeldin Untruthful about Healthcare?

  1. Marc Rauch says:

    Excellent post! That “misinformation campaign” missive was a particularly nasty and misleading piece of Zeldin propaganda and definitely merited a response. It must have been quite an effort to keep your tone so restrained.

  2. Mike Anthony says:

    Great stuff, Dr. P. If this is so god, why aren’t more health professionals behind this bill.

  3. Mike Anthony says:

    Make that “good,” not “god.”

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