Health

The CBO Report Made This Republican Cry for an Unexpected Reason

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) helped write the Republican health care plan—the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—but on Wednesday, he reportedly got misty-eyed over the impact it may have if passed.

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its report on the Republican health care plan. The non-partisan governmental agency found that passing the AHCA would result in 23 million more Americans losing health insurance. Furthermore, it found the bill does not protect those with preexisting conditions. According to the CBO report, "less healthy people would face extremely high premiums."

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Meadows reportedly cried as he told reporter Haley Byrd of the Independent Journal Review, on Wednesday, that he's had family members die from diseases that would be considered preexisting conditions.

"Listen, I lost my sister to breast cancer. I lost my dad to lung cancer," Meadows said. "If anybody is sensitive to preexisting conditions, it’s me. I’m not going to make a political decision today that affects somebody’s sister or father because I wouldn't do it to myself."

Meadows went on to say that if Republicans pass a bill that doesn't protect people with preexisting conditions, then they have "failed." Meadows is a member of the House Freedom Caucus that originally blocked the passage of the AHCA, because they felt it didn't move far enough away from the policies laid out by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. One of the changes that was made to the AHCA—which eventually passed in the House at the beginning of May—would make it so states could get waivers to charge those with preexisting conditions more.

"The AHCA would permit states to effectively eliminate the ACA’s ban on varying premiums based on health status, dramatically raising premiums for people with serious illnesses and pushing some of them out of the insurance market entirely," Matthew Fiedler, a fellow with the Center for Health Policy at the Brookings Institute, told ATTN:. "These shifts would reduce the extent to which the insurance market serves two of its essential functions: providing protection against serious illness and ensuring the sick can get the care they need."

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Republicans have claimed that something in the bill called "high-risk pools" would help those with preexisting conditions. If a state chose to charge those with preexisting conditions higher premiums, the state could put people who have higher health care costs will be put in their own group, and that group will be given subsidies to help cover costs. However, according to a report from Vox, high-risk pools are incredibly expensive and there may not be enough money provided in the bill to cover costs.

"The CBO report really shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody, and certainly not to the members who were working on that bill," Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms, told ATTN:. "It was pretty apparent to most of us who have long recognized that heath care is complicated that the Republican plan was going to dramatically reduce access and affordability for people with preexisting conditions."

Corlette said the CBO report generally said what she was expecting it to say, so she can't imagine why it would blindside anyone. She said Republicans have consistently said the bill says one thing when it actually says something different.

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"What I've never seen in all my years following health policy is the disconnect between the rhetoric to describe a piece of legislation and what is actually in the legislation," Corlette said. "It's almost like they're talking about two different bills." She said there have been "a lot of lip service about protecting people with preexisting conditions," but if you actually read the bill, it does not protect those people from being charged far more than what they can afford.

The health care bill is currently in the hands of the Senate; that body is reportedly dissatisfied with the House version of the bill.