congresswoman congressman* Marsha Blackburn, a twangy Tea Party zealot, loudly said to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today:
You’re taking away their choice!
She was talking, of course, about the Affordable Care Act’s disdain for insurance plans that don’t meet the law’s new standard for coverage. Except that the truth is those inferior plans, plans that essentially are rip-offs for consumers, were actually protected in the law. As HealthCare.gov puts it:
If you are covered by a plan that existed March 23, 2010, your plan may be “grandfathered.”
The site also explains the difference between the new standardized plans and the grandfathered ones:
All health plans must:
- End lifetime limits on coverage
- End arbitrary cancellations of health coverage
- Cover adult children up to age 26
- Provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), a short, easy-to-understand summary of what a plan covers and costs
- Hold insurance companies accountable to spend your premiums on health care, not administrative costs and bonuses
Grandfathered plans DON’T have to:
- Cover preventive care for free
- Guarantee your right to appeal
- Protect your choice of doctors and access to emergency care
- Be held accountable through Rate Review for excessive premium increases
In addition to the above, grandfathered individual health insurance plans (the kind you buy yourself, not the kind you get from an employer) don’t have to:
Leaving aside the hypocrisy of Republicans yelling about taking away people’s health care choices, when they have all supported the Ryan budget plans that, as Jonathan Cohn points out, would cause “between 14 and 20 million Medicaid recipients” to “lose their insurance,” let us instead focus on the inaccuracy of Blackburn’s hysterical claim, “You’re taking away their choice!”
Now, it is indisputable that there are many folks, people who have to purchase insurance on the individual market, receiving notices that their current plans, junk or not, are being discontinued. Insurance companies have to, by law, notify policy holders 90 days in advance if they will not offer the same plan next year. But discontinuing those insurance plans is the decision of the insurance company. It should be shouted from the housetops that they don’t have to discontinue them. If the policy existed on March 23, 2010, the companies can keep on selling their junk, as long as there are folks willing to buy it.
And apparently some small number of people prefer the junk. I like the way Wonkette’s Doctor Zoom put it:
Unfortunately, the crappy insurance lovers among us are also very noisy. They have been giving GOP lawmakers a lot of ammunition with which to shoot at ObamaCare. And although we know the shooting will never stop, we can hope that mainstream journalists will stop listening to the shooters and pay more attention to the victims of Republican attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
I will remind you that some people like to drive a Ford, not a Ferrari, and some people like to drink out of a red Solo cup, not a crystal stem.
Ahh. Forget for a moment that in most cases people with crappy insurance aren’t really driving Fords or drinking out of plastic cups. They’re actually not really driving or drinking at all. They’re on foot and thirsty. But the
congresswoman’s congressman’s analogy accidentally reveals the strength of the Affordable Care Act: It’s offering Ferraris and crystal to those who haven’t been able to afford them! I guess that’s why they call it the “Affordable” Care Act, huh?
In any case, since Ms. Blackburn brought it up, since she mentioned those red Solo cups, it reminded me of a god-awful country song by a god-awful reactionary country star named Toby Keith:
Now a red solo cup is the best receptacle
For barbecues, tailgates, fairs and festivals
And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles
If you prefer drinking from glass
That sort of sums up Republican thinking on this issue, doesn’t it?
* She prefers it that way.