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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Congressman Lewis Lacks An Honest Assessment Of Healthcare

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 02/13/17 14:03

by Dave Mindeman

Jason Lewis likes to make blanket statements without any real facts to back it up. His latest is another doozy...

"Minnesota had one of the best insurance pools, high-risk insurance pools in the country and it was undone by the ACA."

Minnesota did have the best one....of really, really bad insurance options. High risk insurance pools are a last resort means to cover people who cannot get insurance any other way. Most of those were people who had pre-existing conditions with chronic illnesses before the ACA, and the insurance companies could refuse to insure them.

Minnesota's plan was a little better than most because the state backed it with a subsidy. In its final year of operation, it cost Minnesota $173 million to keep it afloat.

And when Jason Lewis says the MCHA was "undone" by the ACA - it is a little misleading. The situational facts are that MCHA was not needed anymore because pre-existing conditions was no longer a factor on who gets insured and Minnesota Care was expanded to cover the rest of those affected.

But Jason Lewis thinks that bringing the MCHA (a catastrophic insurance back-up) is the answer to repealing the ACA. He seems to be saying that the MCHA is better than the Affordable Care Act.

And let's be honest - that is flat out wrong.

The MCHA high risk pool had a wide variety of premiums....

Craig Britton of Plymouth was forced to buy MCHA coverage because of a pancreatitis diagnosis. He paid more than $18,000 a year in premiums.

I'm not sure how that fits into the affordable category. Britton was at the high end of the scale. But he was not alone on paying quite a bit more...

MCHA priced premiums for policy holders at 25 percent more than conventional coverage.

Frankly, this coverage had to cost more because the risk pool was limited to the chronically ill people who could not get insurance via the regular method.

Again, the MCHA was disbanded because the ACA moved all of those people into the general risk pool - and made subsidies available to them. Of course, that meant the insurance carriers had to spread that risk around and obviously, premiums for everybody went up....but that could have been less of a problem if the insurance companies had planned for it better and if Congress had not taken away the re-insurance option that would have paid for unexpected coverages beyond their assessments.

I don't know if Lewis fully understands what he is talking about in this regard because to think of the MCHA as a better option than the ACA is just false. The MCHA plans had high premiums, high deductibles and had few coverages for prevention and often no coverage for prescriptions drugs.

As a pharmacist, I often had to tell that an MCHA patient that their prescription was only a discount program and not actual insurance coverage. A $180 prescription would require $165 out of pocket. And most of those discount plans are offered without going through the MCHA.

So, Congressman Lewis, I hope we can get a more honest assessment of healthcare, from you, in the future, because if these high risk pools are your answer, then you really have no answer at all.
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