During this evening’s political debate for Montana’s at-large Congressional seat, Steve Daines demonstrated that he has absolutely zero credibility when it comes to the most important domestic facing the nation, health care.
Daines, like all good members of the TEA Party, would repeal the Affordable Care Act. This decision would immediately have the following impacts:
- It would cause a net increase in federalbudget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period (according to the CBO)
- Over 1.2 million young adults would lose their insurance coverage through their parents’ health plans.
- 44.1 million seniors in the United States who have Medicare coverage would be forced to pay a co-pay to receive important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies.
And that’s just the immediate cost. The long-term drain on the American economy from millions uninsured would be devastating.
As foolish as repealing the Affordable Care Act would be, the real absurdity of Daines’s position became clear when he was pressed for an alternative. He offered the conservative trifecta of tort reform, portability of insurance, and affordability.
His answer? The response of man who doesn’t understand the health care system or the struggles families face to provide care.
Tort reform is nothing more than a conservative fantasy. As Tom Baker, professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law has noted, full tort reform would do almost nothing to solve the increasing costs of health care:
According to the actuarial consulting firm Towers Perrin, medical malpractice tort costs were $30.4 billion in 2007, the last year for which data are available. We have a more than a $2 trillion health care system. That puts litigation costs and malpractice insurance at 1 to 1.5 percent of total medical costs. That’s a rounding error. Liability isn’t even the tail on the cost dog. It’s the hair on the end of the tail.
Portability will do nothing for the millions who lack health insurance and little for those who have defined plans as a part of their job.
As for affordability, Daines offered the answer of a man who doesn’t understand how health care or markets work. He suggested that “hospitals could provide charitable care” and that we could educate consumers do use primary care rather than expensive emergency room services.
Daines is wrong, wrong wrong on health care. He’s wrong when he supports cutting millions of young adults from insurance plans, wrong when he supports ending Medicare, and wrong when he supports “affordability” measures that will bankrupt families facing medical costs.