Why President Trump and Gov. DeSantis are lying about their wish to protect preexisting condition in health care laws

For months now President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continue to lie to the public about their commitment to protecting people with preexisting conditions from losing the insurance or having to pay outrageous premiums.

Let’s be clear at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address President Trump stood in front of the citizens of the United States and proclaimed “We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is backing a lawsuit by Gov. DeSantis of Florida along with other conservative-led states that would overturn the entire Affordable Care Act, including its guarantees that people cannot be turned down or charged more for health insurance because of preexisting medical problems.

Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed they will protect people with preexisting conditions, but they have not specified how they would do that. Truth be told in the now decade since the ACA was passed the Republicans have wanted to repeal the law but have never come up with anything that is close to a replacement.

Estimates of how many people could potentially be affected if “Obamacare’s” protections for preexisting conditions are eliminated range from about 54 million working-age adults, in a study last year from the Kaiser Family Foundation to as many as 133 million people in a 2017 government study that also included children.

If the law were to be eliminated “it would be total chaos,” said former Ohio governor John Kasich, one of the seven Republicans governors Republicans to embrace parts of the ACA.

“It provided a lot of coverage to a lot of people,” he added.

In the 2018 midterms, voters in the Republican-leaning states of Nebraska, Utah, and Idaho approved ballot initiatives expanding Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently approved Maine’s Medicaid expansion, which was also approved via the ballot.

In an average of the three most recent polls on health care conducted in the fall of 2019 Obamcare received overwhelming support. The support came from all sectors, Republicans, Democrats, independents, young and old.

Most Americans felt high drug costs are the most important issue for Congress to address, with 68% of those polled believing lawmakers should take targeted actions on rising prices. 64% believe Congress should focus on protecting pre-existing conditions, while half believe surprise medical bills should also be a “top priority,” and 66% said the ACA should be fixed and improved upon but not replaced.

By the way, over 70% of those polled were against Medicare For All saying that is way too costly. The second factor for their opposition being they did not want the government involved in their health care.

During the 10 years that Republicans have attempted but failed to repeal Obamacare, they have through legislations undercut the law, weakened it and placed millions of people at risk of dying in the process.

If President Trump and Gov. DeSantis get their way and the court tosses the ACA costs in Florida,  Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and West Virginia will rise in some cases as much as 100 percent. Many other states, including a number of states that supported President Trump, will see over 50 percent health care price hikes. 

In 2019 DeSantis signed a bill into law that would change the state insurance code to makes clear that if Obamacare is repealed by Congress or struck down by the United States Supreme Court, insurance companies in Florida would be required to offer access to policies to people with preexisting conditions.

However, there are no restrictions on how much those plans will cost nor are there any real details on what the insurance companies define as a preexisting condition. So, there remains a huge cloud over Floridians with preexisting conditions as to what is covered and at what the insurance will cost should the ACA get overturned.

The Trump Admiration went to court to see if the Supreme Court could make a ruling in 2021 after the 2020 election rather than render a verdict this summer. That attempt failed and so we could have either a summer surprise or Chief Justice John Roberts could once again step in and save the chaos caused by overturning the ACA.

In a story published last week in The Hill, they outlined the Trump Administration plan for Block Grants for Medicaid. In a letter to state Medicaid directors outlines how states can undertake the drastic, controversial change that conservatives have eyed for years.

The move is likely to kick off a furious legal fight. Democrats have been arguing the administration doesn’t have the authority to approve such drastic changes, and Medicaid advocates argue the changes would hurt low-income people and invite states to cut costs and reduce coverage. 

The program — branded as the “Healthy Adult Opportunity” — will allow states to ask permission to end their traditional, open-ended Medicaid program and put hard caps on how much money states and the federal government will spend on the poor and disabled. 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has made state flexibility a priority during her tenure running the agency. During a call with reporters, she said states have been asking for the ability to be more innovative.

“It’s a bit of a D.C.-centric idea that only D.C. will do the right thing,” she said.

The block grant will apply to the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion population’s “able-bodied” people. Advocates argue this gives an incentive for GOP governors in expansion states to roll back benefits and spending. 

Anyone who is covered by traditional state Medicaid programs, disabled or eligible for long-term care is excluded. Other low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities will also be excluded. 

According to report out from the nonpartisan Florida Health Justice Project. There is plenty of reason for Sunshine State residents to be concerned.

Florida’s Medicaid program currently guarantees coverage for children in low-income families and very low-income parents of minor children, pregnant women, and individuals who are blind, aged, or disabled. Over 4 million Floridians rely on Medicaid for their health care.  If Florida opts-in to capped Medicaid funds, a budget shortfall will be inevitable.  While the federal government will save money, the state’s costs will balloon.  Medicaid in Florida already has one of the country’s lowest per enrollee spending rates.  When the state decides it is unwilling or unable to take on additional costs, it will be forced to take ruthless measures: cut eligibility, reduce benefits, and/or establish waiting lists.

Florida’s residents already have serious economic challenges and health care needs that underscore the potential negative impact of a Medicaid block grant.  For example, Florida is home to over 800,000 children living in families below the federal poverty level, has the second largest waiting list in the country for severely disabled residents requiring home and community based services in order to avoid institutionalization, and is tied for first among the states for the highest portion of senior residents.  The state has one of the nation’s highest rates of HIV infection and a high rate of drug overdose mortality, and will be among the first in the nation to experience the wide-scale health impacts of climate change.

Capping federal health coverage funds will mean that many of these people, and likely those with the most expensive care needs, will find themselves without coverage for the care they require.  A Medicaid shortfall would also threaten the state’s ability to cover high-cost prescription drugs, to address a public health emergency like the opioid epidemic or Zika, or to meet the needs of Floridians in an economic downturn.  In short, a Medicaid block grant would spell disaster for the health of state residents and the viability of the providers who serve them.

So, as you can see the 2020 election is very important when it comes to health care and be sure you do your homework as to which candidates both on the presidential side as well as in the state and locally is looking after you the voter.

Your life actually could depend on it.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.