This week, Donald Trump managed to move ahead with one of his key campaign promises: dismantling Obamacare. On Thursday, Trump’s new replacement healthcare plan narrowly passed through the house, barely scraping by with enough GOP support to move on for a vote in the Senate. As TIME reports, the bill (officially known as the revised American Health Care Act) passed by the slimmest of margins with 217 members of Congress voting for it and 213 voting against. Not surprisingly, the vote was along bitterly fought party lines.
For several days, it appeared that the new plan, widely dubbed “Trumpcare,” despite the POTUS’ objections to that particular moniker, was doomed to fail for a second time. However, Trump and his team were narrowly able to garner enough votes to give the Senate a crack at the legislation. However, that’s no indication that Trumpcare will ever become law.
Rep. Mo Brooks speaks for Republicans: 'people who live good lives' deserve cheaper health insurance https://t.co/Wyls7MAXXl— Muckmaker (@RealMuckmaker) May 2, 2017
The legislation has been heavily criticized as targeting the poorest and sickest Americans with its new provisions. As CNN reports, dozens of health conditions that were covered by Obamacare will now (once again) be considered “pre-existing conditions” and will no longer be covered under the new Trumpcare plan. Or, if they are covered, premiums may increase exponentially.
Check out the list below for issues that may be among the conditions that would be considered “pre-existing” under the new American Health Care Act.
- Bipolar disease
- Menstrual irregularities
- Sex reassignment
- Sleep apnea
The list above is not law, nor is it all-inclusive. When it comes to pre-existing conditions, the actual determination is made by the insurance company, and in many cases can even include heart conditions, pregnancy, and a whole slew of mental health conditions.
According to at least one GOP congressman who advocated for Trumpcare to pass, the problem of pre-existing conditions can be alleviated by leading a “good life.” Mo Brooks, a Republican congressman from Alabama, made his assertion during a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. The discussion between Tapper and GOP congressman Mo Brooks took place earlier this week, just days before Trumpcare passed the House.
Take a look at what GOP Congressman Mo Brooks, a Trumpcare proponent, had to say about insurance coverage and what can be done to avoid pre-existing conditions.
According to GOP Congressman Brooks, his understanding of the Trumpcare plan is that it will let insurance companies charge people with “higher healthcare costs” higher premiums, thus preventing people who “lead good lives” from paying more.
“My understanding is that (the new proposal) will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher healthcare costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people — who’ve done things the right way — that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”
Hey, Mo Brooks, I was such a bad child that I got polio. Please raise my insurance rates to teach me a lesson. pic.twitter.com/j507V98rxV— Mark Paul (@mugwump2) May 1, 2017
The implications of the GOP congressman’s words are seemingly quite clear: those who suffer from pre-existing conditions have done something wrong or incorrect.
According to Jeanna Jorgensen of Patheos Blogs, Congressman Brooks’ statement amounts to little more than “sympathetic magic.”
“he two main principles of sympathetic magic – that like attracts like, and that touch contaminates – are both found in Brooks’s claims.”
In an interview with Bloomberg Monday, Donald Trump vowed that he would protect people with pre-existing conditions from suffering unduly as a result of his dismantling of Obamacare.
“I want it to be good for sick people. It’s not in its final form right now. It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”
However, if GOP Congressman Mo Brooks is to be believed, Trumpcare won’t be “every bit as good” on pre-existing conditions, because it includes provisions that allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions, i.e., those who have failed to lead “good lives,” higher premiums than their healthier counterparts. Indeed, Jake Tapper pointed out to Brooks that insurance companies may indeed be able to refuse to insure those with pre-existing conditions under Trumpcare.
“This new legislation would allow states to opt-out, and allow insurance companies to refuse to sell insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, as long as there’s some set-up for them.”
What’s more, prior to Obamacare, the nation’s largest insurers, United Healthcare, Cigna, and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, had the option of simply declining coverage to people with some health issues. They could deem an insurance applicant “uninsurable” and opt out of covering them, regardless of the premium.
GOP Congressman Mo Brooks’ comments on pre-existing conditions and the ability to prevent them by living “good lives” has spawned a backlash on Twitter as many responded to the claims under the hashtag #IAmAPreExistingCondition. One user, whose account has since become private, told a tale of her struggles with leukemia.
“I was diagnosed w Leukemia @ age 3 & have been in remission for 12 yrs but apparently I don’t live the “right way” #IAmAPreexistingCondition
— E???? (@elilrx) May 4, 2017″
And she was far from the only social media user willing to share her two cents regarding GOP Congressman Brooks and his thoughts on living the “right way.”
There's a suicide epidemic. What's the worst thing you could do? Oh yeah, cut mental health coverage for kids #Iamapreexistingcondition— Vixen (@vidatheraptor) May 5, 2017
U can't justify spending $20 Billion on a wall when families r going bankrupt coz of health costs in this country #IAmAPreexistingCondition— Shah (@CalculusKing_ck) May 5, 2017
Nurse practitioner and Multiple Myeloma patient. Incurable but treatable. But not at premiums of $140k a year. #IAmAPreexistingCondition— Tiffany H Williams (@FAITHnHOPE2014) May 5, 2017
Many critics of the new Trumpcare plan have argued that the Obamacare replacement makes “being a woman a pre-existing condition,” and some have been quick to point out that while coverage of pregnancy and birth control may be lost (or become exponentially more costly), impotency is still not considered a pre-existing condition.
Pregnancy is a preexisting condition under #trumpcare; but no worries, erectile dysfunction is still covered.— kylie chiyoko (@kyliechiyoko) May 4, 2017
Americans suffering from pre-existing conditions, whether they lead “good lives” or not (despite the comments of GOP Congressman Mo Brooks), could potentially be among the hardest hit should the new Trumpcare legislation successfully pass through the Senate and become law. Fortunately, it is likely to take some time for healthcare premiums to rise under the Trumpcare plan; individual state will have to apply for waivers allowing their insurers to increase premiums based on pre-existing conditions and other medical history. Then, those states would have to establish programs “to protect insurers from high-cost patients.”
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]