Did Rubio Support The Pre-Existing Conditions Exclusion Before He Opposed It?

Marco Rubio is now backing away from his claim that he would preserve certain provisions of the new health care law. But as his campaign released a statement clarifying that he “believes the health care law should be repealed – all of it,” the National Review’s Jim Geraghty posted this video of Rubio clearly articulating his support for maintaining provisions that eliminate the pre-existing conditions exclusion and permit children to stay on their parents’ plan up to age 26:

RUBIO: Obamacare should be repealed. It’s going to bankrupt America…..So I think there are a couple of things that stand on their own that people like, like the pre-existing condition clause, I think there’s widespread support for. The idea that people up to the age of 26 should be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plan, has widespread support. But beyond that, I think the bill should be scrapped and replaced with much better ideas….

MATT LEWIS: So you wouldn’t scrap the ability for insurance agents — you said there were to — you wouldn’t scrap pre-existing conditions, you would keep that in?

RUBIO: Yeah, and I think there’s broad support for that, Republicans and the American public support that. And I think there’s support for the idea that 26 years old — up to age 26 years of age should be allowed to buy into their parents’ insurance plan. Beyond that, I think Obamacare is unaffordable….So I think we need get rid of these other provisions of Obamacare completely and replace them with these simpler, cheaper, better ideas.

Watch it:

In his ‘clarification,’ Rubio argues that he would replace the entire health law with legislation “establishing universal access programs to guarantee access to affordable health care for those with pre-existing conditions” and touts the House Republican alternative (which included this concept) as a model. But that GOP plan (as opposed to their 1993 proposal) wouldn’t actually prevent insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It relies on state based high-risk pools — and that’s very different than the pre-existing conditions exclusion Rubio supported yesterday.

Under “universal access,” (and according to the bill the GOP House leadership introduced), insurers can continue denying coverage for pre-existing conditions but states are required to establish high risk pools to insure those who cannot find coverage on their own. The bill abolishes waiting lists and specifies that the pools must provide at least two coverage options, one of which must be a high deductible plan with HSA. Premiums can be set at no higher than 150% of (state) average and the federal government will provide $15 billion in funding — a paltry sum, considering that very sick people are very expensive to insure. In fact, just recently, Republicans penned a letter to HHS complaining that the health care law’s $5 billion appropriation to run high risk pools for just 3 years is insufficient, do they really think that states can stretch $15 billion over 10 and buy insurance for all those who need it?

Rubio is trying to conflate “universal access” with an outright ban — the kind that he supported yesterday afternoon. But the two are not the same, and if Rubio really wants to prevent insurers from excluding chronically ill patients, he’ll have to support the individual mandate.


Ramesh Ponnuru explains why you can’t have a pre-existing conditions exclusion without an individual mandate:

One more time: If you can buy insurance at the same price whether you’re sick or healthy, you have no incentive to buy it when it’s healthy. Only sick people will buy it, and its price will rise and rise. If you want to have this ban and preserve something called insurance, you have to force everyone to buy it. You can’t get this ban on an a la carte menu, as popular as it would be.

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