Debunking the BCRA Disinformation

I have worked in the healthcare field for 27 years and the amount of disinformation swirling around the U.S. Senate’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” is staggering. Let me address the falsehoods:

  • No, the bill does not provide sufficient protections for those with pre-existing health conditions. It’s true that one part of the bill prohibits charging people more for pre-existing conditions, but another section allows governors to apply for waivers for their states to deny coverage for certain conditions or charge more. This is the proverbial Schrödinger’s Cat of the BCRA, a paradox in which it is true because it is prohibited, while it is allowable in another section of the bill.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (no relation) claims there’s a good reason that fewer people will be covered under the Senate bill: because they will elect not to obtain coverage. This is false. The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill shows that the majority of the people who will lose healthcare coverage are Medicaid recipients. These are our seniors, children and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for care and who could be unceremoniously removed from Medicaid, or see their benefits reduced, under deep cuts to the program.
  • “Obamacare is imploding.” Not true, as stated explicitly by the CBO. The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is working well, and this is the largest segment of people insured under the ACA. Those insured under the Marketplace are a smaller number, and it’s true that the Marketplace or exchanges could use reforms. Every state has insurance options available under the Marketplace, although it’s true that there are some isolated counties where no plans are available. The good news is that many states, including New Jersey, have recently had insurance companies expanding into the Marketplace. That gives consumers more options to purchase insurance, but I think everyone agrees that there is more we can do to drive down premiums and deductibles.
  • One of the ugliest comments I’ve heard about Medicaid is that its recipients should “just get jobs.” This is callous and uninformed. First, nearly 60 percent of New Jersey’s nursing home residents are on Medicaid. Medicaid also covers one in three children in our state. It’s hard to get a job when you’re in a nursing home bed or are a schoolkid. In addition, reports show that eight in 10 Medicaid recipients live in a household where someone works, but that person is not lucky enough to have a job that provides health insurance.
  • “CBO data is inaccurate.” It’s easy to blame the messenger, but the CBO is a nonpartisan entity that is highly respected and puts out very credible information. The CBO score on the BCRA clearly impacted the Senate’s decision not to vote this week. Senators saw the report of 22 million Americans losing insurance as really important news, critical to their decision making.
  • The biggest misnomer of all? Its name, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act. If cutting health insurance for 22 million people is “better care,” then I have a bridge to sell you.
Written by Betsy Ryan at 00:00


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