Political Animal


April 18, 2013 5:21 PM Throwing Money At a Problem You Don’t Want To Solve

By Ed Kilgore

A good measure of the perverse thinking behind contemporary conservative health care policy is the legislation being promoted by the House GOP leadership that would pour four billion dollars into a temporary “high-risk insurance” pool set up under Obamacare. It’s temporary because it was intended to serve as a stopgap measure until Obamacare’s provision banning denial of health insurance on grounds of pre-existing conditions kicks in at the beginning of 2014. Republicans don’t want it to be temporary, because they intend to repeal the pre-existing condition ban, and let insurance companies discriminate to their hearts’ content, consigning the victims permanently to the ghetto of high-risk pools.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with the state-run high-risk pools set up under the 1996 HIPAA legislation knows they typically offer crappy insurance at exorbitant rates. Best I can tell, the federal pool established by Obamacare is marginally better, but still pretty bad from the point of view of the kind of people—often the unemployed and the self-employed—that must rely on individual policies that just aren’t available elsewhere at any price.

As a symbol of the GOP’s enormous compassion, propping up and extending the high-risk pool is laughably weak, and so it’s amusing that even this offer of a band-aid has aroused the wrath of the Club for Growth, which is opposing the funding because it’s “too expensive” and usurps the role of the states (you know, the states that had to be dragged into setting up these pools by the federal government via HIPAA).

Anyone in search of a health care policy debate within the congressional Republican Party can find one here, between those favoring inadequate money to “address” a problem they refuse to solve, and those saying to hell with it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 18, 2013 6:23 PM:

    Conservative POV:

    Well, how can you expect that we pay, and give you a day off when you sneeze, when you might need to take the week off with the flu - WITHOUT pay, might we add!!!

    Get back to work, MOOCHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!