Maybe it’s just me, but Ann Wagner (R-2) seems a bit defensive about her “full-throated” support of the latest House health care abomination, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In the latest, mostly anodyne, installment of Rep. Ann Wagner’s regular constituent email newsletter, she indulged in a little victory dance on what she evidently hopes will be one more shovelful of dirt on the grave of Obamacare:
Last week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City announced that it is leaving the Obamacare exchange, leaving approximately 30,000 Missourians without health insurance. It is unacceptable that 25 counties will have no health insurance option next year. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report showing that because of Obamacare, monthly insurance premiums for Missouri families have skyrocketed 145% since 2013.
Obamacare has failed Missouri families, and politicians who continue to defend this broken system are ignoring their needs. Washington created this nightmare, and the solution is not more government health insurance from Washington, D.C. The answer is to make the American Health Care Act law and give Missouri families—not Washington bureaucrats—freedom and control over their own healthcare decisions.
You can quibble with her figures. Other sources say that only 19,000 people in Missouri stand to lose BCBS coverage. – what’s a little GOP number fudging amount to in the Trump era after all – but Wagner’s right about the effect of insurers leaving the market. The situation for Obamacare isn’t good. But you already knew that. There are, however, a couple of points she and fellow GOP hustlers, such as Senator Roy Blunt, have neglected to mention.
- President Trump and Ann Wagner’s Republican Congress are actively trying to “blow up” the Obamacare exchanges. Republicans have opposed, and Trump, for his part, refuses to commit to either ending or continuing the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) that subsidize lower-income people who purchase insurance on the exchanges. In response, insurers have explicitly stated that, because of the resulting uncertainty about risk levels they will likely be raising premiums or, as in the case of BCBS, leaving the exchanges altogether. Wagner has some chutzpah talking about the collapse of Obamacare when, as WaPos Greg Sargent observes:
… This whole dynamic shows that one of the leading GOP health care talking points is also complete nonsense. Paul Ryan loves to say that Republicans are performing a “rescue mission” by stepping in to save people from the allegedly collapsing ACA by replacing it, and that they don’t want any people to be hurt in the transition. As it is, their “rescue mission” would result in 23 million people losing insurance over 10 years, and in soaring premiums for sick people, with many priced out of the market. But that aside, if their own stated goal is to avoid hurting people during the transition, it’s unclear why they would not fund the CSRs, since the failure to do so is going to hurt untold numbers of them.
2. In The Atlantic Olga Khazan argues that “there is one thing Republicans usually leave out of their indictment of Obamacare, though: Insurers might have been less likely to exit if more states had expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.” The reasons behind this claim are complex and I suggest that if you’re interested, you should read the article which presents persuasive evidence that, as a Kaiser Family Foundation study on the subject asserts “state policy decisions – in particular, on Medicaid expansion and allowing transitional (“grandmothered”) plans to continue for a period of time – have had an effect on the risk pool in the private individual market.” Missouri, of course, was too ideologically blinkered or too spiteful towards President Obama to expand Medicaid. And the sins of the leaders are always visited on the citizens.
Given the dishonest pablum that we receive from elected representatives like Ann Wagner and the rest of the Missouri GOP contingent, somebody has to get the story out about what these heartless liars are up to. They don’t get to harm so many Americans without taking responsibility for what they are doing. In the words of Khazan, “Republicans might live to see the Obamacare “death spiral” they have long been prophesying. But insurance markets don’t just collapse on their own. Decisions by states, Congress, and the Trump administration can—and have—given them a hefty nudge.”
And maybe the day of reckoning will soon be coming for Wagner and her ilk:
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is also running six-second, non-skippable YouTube ads targeting 12 Republicans who voted for the House bill: West Virginia Reps. Alex Mooney and McKinley, Indiana Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, Missouri Reps. Ann Wagner and Vicky Hartzler, Pennsylvania Reps. Mike Kelly and Lou Barletta, Rep. Pat Tiberi (Ohio), Rep. Evan Jenkins (WV.), Rep. Kevin Cramer (N.D.) and Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.)
Couldn’t happen to better people. After years of trying to buoy up our Missouri Democrats to withstand such ads coming from conservative groups, it’ll be great fun to watch Wagner – and the equally reprehensible Hartzler – take some heat.