Kentucky Health News
Former Gov. Steve Beshear told a national TV audience that Republicans have done nothing about replacing Obamacare except talk about it, and said they should remember that Americans will react politically if their coverage is “yanked away.”
“The insurers know, just like I know, that all they’ve ever given 10 minutes of thought to is repealing. They haven’t given 10 minutes thought to replacing,” Beshear told Craig Melvin of MSNBC. “They are like the dog that has caught the car, now they don’t know what to do. All they know is that they’ve got to do something. And boy, are they scrambling.”
Beshear, who embraced Obamacare as governor, was on the liberal-leaning channel to reply to President Donald Trump’s address to congressional Republicans at their annual retreat in Philadelphia.
Trump commented that he had considered doing nothing about Obamacare, saying it would eventually “explode” and cause Democrats to beg for action, but “We have to take care of the American people immediately. So we can’t wait.”
Asked about that, Beshear said, “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable,” adding that the ACA “for the first time” is working to provide health insurance to every American, and if Republicans can come up with something better, “That would be wonderful.”
Republicans haven’t yet agreed on how to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Trump has said he wants to provide coverage for everyone and cover pre-existing conditions, but also supports changing Medicaid into a block-grant program, which critics say would erode coverage.
Beshear pointed out that 20 million Americans, including 500,000 Kentuckians, have benefited from the reform law, and “most of whom like what they have.”
“But every plan that they are talking about right now is really just going back to the way things were,” he said, adding later, “Everything that they are talking about so far is basically going to take that health care coverage away from all of those people. And that’s unconscionable.”
Melvin asked Beshear what he thought about a proposal by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would allow states to opt in or opt out of Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion.
Beshear said, “Well, if you look at how the ACA works, you have to have that marketplace out there that has got to include everybody. So, dividing it up and saying, ‘Oh, do it if you want to’ . . . they know what will happen, they know that no insurers will participate on that kind of basis.”
Because the law requires insurance companies to cover everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and no longer allows them to set yearly or lifetime limits on coverage, companies must have a large enrollment with a large portion of healthy people who don’t use many services in order to cover their costs.
Beshear wrapped up with a warning to Republicans about the possible political repercussions of taking away people’s health insurance: “There are 22 million Americans out there who are going to look at them and make sure that they continue to have as good of coverage as they have right now, and if they think that politically they can get away with yanking that away, I think they’ve got another thing coming.”