Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Joe Heck (R-NV), who voted to repeal Obamacare 37 times, have introduced legislation to preserve some of its most popular features. Their bill, H.R. 2165, would uphold most of Obamacare’s consumer protections — without paying for them.
H.R. 2165 would simultaneously preserve “individual and group market reforms to protect health insurance consumers” while repealing most aspects of the health reform law. Specifically, the bill would include Obamacare protections such as precluding insurers from denying Americans’ coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition, and allow children to stay on their parents’ health coverage until age 26. It would also adopt conservative-endorsed health reform policies such as medical malpractice reform and allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines.
Fitzpatrick hasn’t always had kind words for Obamacare. In a 2012 fundraising email, Fitzpatrick slammed the health law as something that leads to “rationing and job-crushing restraints.” However, he acknowledged that Obamacare has positive aspects, such as its provisions protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions from insurance discrimination. Those policies eventually made their way into H.R. 2165.
“This bill gives us a practical way to keep the popular parts of the Affordable Care Act while Congress finds a solution to fix the unpopular parts that have many Americans deeply concerned,” said Fitzpatrick of his proposal.
But Fitzpatrick’s and Heck’s proposal would ruin much — if not all — of the U.S. health care industry. In order to preserve the current system of private health insurance while barring insurance companies from unsavory practices such as denying claims based on pre-existing conditions, every American must buy into the insurance risk pool. Otherwise, sick Americans would only purchase coverage when convenient while forgoing it while they are healthy, creating a vicious cycle that would drive health insurance premiums through the roof and eventually destroy the insurance industry. In turn, hospitals wouldn’t receive compensation for their services, thus bankrupting care providers, too.
H.R. 2165 would also eliminate the various taxes that fund Obamacare, meaning that poor Americans wouldn’t be able to access an expanded Medicaid pool. Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion is expected to provide basic health coverage to over 21 million low-income Americans by 2022.
This isn’t the first time that Republicans have admitted support for popular Obamacare provisions. Top GOP leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), has pushed for an extension of temporary Affordable Care Act provisions that provide insurance to Americans with pre-existing conditions — even criticizing President Obama for a lack of funding for such programs. But the reality is that Republicans are obstructing such funding to begin with through their knee-jerk opposition to the health law.