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June 03, 2013 12:41 PM A Fine Example of GOP Yea-Saying

By Ed Kilgore

Earlier this morning I wrote about the new NSRC ad touting the positive spirit of the Grand Old Party, which appears to echo the broader “rebranding” effort launched earlier this year by Eric Cantor, who repackaged a bunch of venerable conservative policy pet rocks as new & cool responses to the practical challenges facing the American people.

So it’s appropriate to take a look at Cantor’s latest “yes!” initiative, a “rejiggered” version of the high-risk pool legislation that crashed in the House in late April when conservatives decided it was sounded too much like an affirmation of a portion of Obamacare.

The new bill, it seems, will not involve moving funds from Obamacare implementation into the federally-run high-risk pool designed as a temporary stopgap for people denied individual insurance for having pre-existing conditions—a practice that the Affordable Care Act will flatly ban at the end of this year. Instead, as TPM’s Sahil Kapur reports:

The altered version wipes out Obamacare’s prevention fund entirely and uses the money to fund state-based high-risk pools which have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act.
“To address the concerns raised several weeks ago, an amended version of the bill has been drafted,” Cantor wrote Friday afternoon in a memo to House Republicans, which was provided to TPM. “The amendment does not utilize or fund the existing [Obamacare high-risk pool] program, which will expire at the end of the year. Instead, the amendment provides funding for state based high risk pools, the framework that represents the conservative policy answer to helping Americans with preexisting conditions.”

So if you have a preexisting condition and live in one of the 35 states running a high-risk pool offering access to individual insurance policies with astronomical premiums for really, really bad insurance, here’s the great news from House Republicans: “conservative policy” holds that propping up these pools is a better option for you than being guaranteed access to affordable and adequate
health insurance! We haven’t seen the exact language of Cantor’s new bill, but it may aim at spreading the blessings of expensive, crappy insurance to all 50 states!

There’s zero chance of this legislation making it an inch in the Senate, and the president would obviously veto it, so it’s all a symbolic gesture. But if this is the kind of “yea-saying” on which the GOP is staking its success, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.

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.

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