Politics

Armey’s View Of Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions: Someone Who ‘Eats Like A Pig’ And Has Diabetes

Ensuring that insurers don’t reject any American for health coverage because of a pre-existing condition is a top priority of the public. Republicans have repeatedly said that they also want to make this change, but in the alternative legislation they released, Americans with pre-existing conditions would still be left out to dry.

Today on CNN, FreedomWorks head Dick Armey defended the industry’s discriminatory practices by saying that if you have diabetes because you “eat like a pig,” you don’t deserve coverage:

ARMEY: But now, they [government officials] come along and they say, irrespective of the fact they’ve gone 20, 30, 40 years of their adult life without ever having bought insurance prior to getting a liver inflammation due to their excessive drinking habits or diabetes because they eat like a pig, you must now insure them.

But at what point do we allow the government to order people that you must sell your product to this person or that person, irrespective of any good judgment? We saw what happened in housing when they ordered banks to make loans to people who weren’t qualified. Are we now going to have the same destructive influences in health care because we’re going to order doctors to provide services and so forth?

Watch it:

In reality, these pre-existing conditions that can disqualify people from receiving health insurance often have nothing to do with unhealthy lifestyle choices — and they disproportionately target women. Some pre-existing conditions are having a Caesarean-section pregnancy, being a victim of domestic violence, or being a victim of rape. Most individual health insurance markets don’t even cover maternity care. Other pre-existing conditions that insurers have used to either deny people outright or charge exorbitant fees for coverage include being an expectant father, having acne, or being a police officer.

Many Republicans, like Armey, seem unable to grasp that denial based on pre-existing conditions is discriminatory. Last week, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said that insurers are justified in charging women more than men because we’re “all different.” He then compared a woman to a “smoker” and a man to a “non-smoker” to argue that insurers should be allowed to discriminate.

Armey also recently told the New York Times that the “largest empirical problem we have in health care today is too many people are too overinsured.” (He’s wrong.)

Transcript:

ROBERTS: Back on this idea of mandates that you talk about. Those mandates really are to guarantee certain levels of coverage, are they not? Like, you can’t be denied if you’ve got a pre-existing condition or if you’re pregnant. It also requires minimum standards for such things as mental health care. And there are a lot of mandates across the government on many industries, but that’s never called socialism.

ARMEY: OK. Well, let me just say, if the government said to the insurance company, no matter how many accidents, wrecks, drunken driving convictions they’ve had in the past and whatever is the condition of their record of driving habits, you must insure them, you would say that’s unreasonable.

But now, they come along and they say, irrespective of the fact they’ve gone 20, 30, 40 years of their adult life without ever having bought insurance prior to getting a liver inflammation due to their excessive drinking habits or diabetes because they eat like a pig, you must now insure them.

But at what point do we allow the government to order people that you must sell your product to this person or that person, irrespective of any good judgment? We saw what happened in housing when they ordered banks to make loans to people who weren’t qualified. Are we now going to have the same destructive influences in health care because we’re going to order doctors to provide services and so forth?

And the fact of the matter is, the government running somebody else’s business can very quickly become the diminution of the whole industry. And I promise this, about what the House passed the other night goes through, you will destroy medical innovation in America, you’ll destroy the incentive for it.

We are the nation of discovery, creation, and innovation in health care. The rest of the world copies us. If we don’t do it, it won’t be done, and it won’t be done under this plan.