Tuesday, 14 October 2014 17:44

Louisiana US Senate debate certainties: Pre-existing conditions, Obamacare

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landrieu-cassidy-manessThe Louisiana US Senate race starts in earnest tonight as Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Tea Party candidate Rob Maness face the voters.


Here are some certainties (or shall we say, near certainties):

Bill Cassidy, who has not attended prior debates or candidate forums, will show up for this one;
Cassidy will mention President Obama’s name in almost every response even if the question is unrelated to President Obama;
Mary Landrieu and Rob Maness will mention, at least one time apiece, by implication or directly, that this is Cassidy’s first debate appearance;
Maness will mention the word “constitution” as often as he can;
Landrieu will emphasis the impact her loss would have upon Louisiana’s energy and economic positions;
Cassidy will respond that Landrieu’s spot as Chairperson of the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources has amounted to little or nothing for Louisiana and even hurts the state.
Cassidy and Maness will claim the insurance premiums and deductibles will skyrocket next year due to Obamacare.
After the debate, those favoring Landrieu, Cassidy and Maness, respectively, will claim their candidates won.

Which all makes one wonder whether the debate is even worth the time to watch, anyway.

Actually, the answer to that mystery is depends.

It depends upon if the moderators really allow a debate, enabling the candidates to argue the issues and step in when one candidate makes a statement that needs further explanation.

One of the issues I personally want discussed is the little matter of Obamacare, premiums and pre-existing conditions.

Most Republicans including Cassidy and Maness want to repeal and replace Obamacare. However, the question I have been asking everyone including Jeff Crouere in today’s WGSO Bayoubuzz Radio Hangout webcast, is to repeal and replace it, and with what?

Here’s my point: Obamacare is far from perfect legislation. Many aspects of it needs fixing. However, one of the key features of the Affordable Care Act is pre-existing conditions coverage. For decades, Democrats, in particular, have tried to add pre-existing condition coverage to insurance policies and republicans have taken the contrary position.

Now that Obamacare has passed, Republicans are hearing from voters that they favor pre-existing condition coverage protections. As a result, Republicans assert they will keep that benefit in future plans.

In fact, Crouere and I discussed this issue today as we have done often on our radio-webcast.

However, here’s the rub—if you repeal Obamacare, you repeal pre-existing conditions coverage.

Let me repeat this. If Obamacare is repealed, pre-existing conditions coverage is nullified. Kaput. Finite. Dead.

In other words, you cannot repeal any law while keeping any of its provisions. You can amend a law, not repeal it.

Or in more popular jargon, you can’t keep your insurance coverage, no matter what anybody claims or says.

So, arguably, if somehow Republicans win the House and the US Senate (which in my view is likely), the first item of business is “repealing Obamacare”. Regardless as to whether Obama vetoes the legislation resulting in an attempted override by Congress which would likely fair, let us assume the GOP gets what it wants, the death of Obamacare. What happens next?

Do the insureds then reimburse the insurance companies all amounts paid for this coverage, to date? Are those, who want and perhaps need pre-existing insurance coverage and who have relied upon it then left in the insurance wilderness now having to pay for coverage for those pre-existing conditions that existed prior to the benefits going into effect early this year? What about those who developed a condition between January 1 2014 and the date of the future repeal? Are those benefits for those conditions thus disallowed?

More so, who and how would we pay for this coverage in future legislation? If insurance companies don’t want it, as they have not in the past, do we really believe that they will embrace this expensive coverage once the law is repealed--unless they get a real benefit to cover their losses?

And where would that benefit come from?

Saying you are for or against something does not mean that in state capitols and especially in Washington DC, a sound fix will be found. With the nation in two vocal political camps with the silent middle majority barely saying a word, chances are the remedy will be harder than it was a few years ago when the legislation was passed under national emotional duress.

Indeed, I look forward to hearing the candidates discuss this issue in detail, tonight or sometime in the near future. Personally, I am about to throw my television and computer out of the window as I am suffering from a severe bout of false TV commercial syndrome. This acute illness is caused by repetitive TV and online commercials that say little or nothing as often as possible. I am told the symptoms are as serious as Ebola. If so, I hope I can find coverage for it after the elections.

So, do I really think our moderators and candidates will probe deep into discussing a fix for Obamscare, and particularly pre-existing conditions conundrum?

I can only hope so, but, in my heart of hearts, I know this is Louisiana politics at its worse.

That’s for certain. 

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Stephen Sabludowsky



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