This afternoon, following oral arguments in the Florida-based multi-state challenge to the Affordable Care Act, Attorneys General Greg Abbot (TX) and Bill McCollum (FL) held a press conference on the steps of the court house, in which the pair made two very peculiar arguments against the health care law. McCollum bragged that if the mandate is declared unconstitutional, the insurance companies will again be allowed to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions. Abbott complained that the requirement to purchase coverage hindered the freedoms of billionaires:
ABBOTT: There are so many, perhaps millions, who are in their 20s who don’t need access to health care, who may not go get any health care….On the other hand, there are people who are worth billions of dollars who may choose to pay the high end of costs for health care, more than what the average American would have paid and not have any kind of health insurance. They should have the freedom to pursue that path also.
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McCollum’s first point about losing the insurance regulations is well taken, but it’s nothing to celebrate. If the mandate is repealed and insurers are required to offer coverage to individuals once they become sick, costs will increase costs for the company and will be passed on to everyone in the risk pool. In fact, I would argue that even if Congress adopts some other alternative to the mandate in an effort to save the insurance regulations– that does half the job of encouraging healthier people to purchase insurance — the industry will lobby hard to also eliminate the protections that allow those with prior conditions to be eligible for coverage.
Lower income Americans with pre-existing conditions will be most affected by this policy change, but for some reason Abbott is much more concerned about the “people who are worth billions of dollars.”