Montana Politics

Rehberg’s Terrible, Horrible, Not Very Good “Replacement” for Affordable Care

Dennis Rehberg received awfully gentle treatment in his interview about the so-calleddennis Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act in today’s Montana’s Lee Newspapers  Essentially, Rehberg’s proposals include a) taking the very popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, b) limiting medical malpractice, and c) allowing insurers to sell insurance across state lines.

While Mike Dennison did ask Representative Rehberg why Republicans who controlled the Congress and Presidency didn’t pass any health care reform provisions as all during the mid 2000s, he let Rehberg off the hook with this answer:

Rehberg says he believes proposals often were blocked in the U.S. Senate, whose rules give the minority considerable power.

I’d love to see the passed House bill between 2002-06 that gave insurance protections to those with pre-existing conditions or that increased Health Saving Accounts, and Dennison should have pressed Rehberg to show them.

As for limiting medical malpractice, it’s nothing more than tired Republican politics, politics which will do nothing to help the millions who will lose insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. It is certainly true that medical malpractice is expensive, but Professor Tom Baker explains quite clearly that “reforming” it will not fix the health care crisis:

As the cost of health care goes up, the medical liability component of it has stayed fairly constant. That means it’s part of the medical price inflation system, but it’s not driving it. The number of claims is small relative to actual cases of medical malpractice.

But critics of the current system say that 10 to 15 percent of medical costs are due to medical malpractice.

A.That’s wildly exaggerated. 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.

The CBO said it was even less—and that reforming medical malpractice “ would only save 0.5 percent of all health care costs.”

As for selling insurance across state lines, not only would it hurt consumers by encouraging a race to the bottom in coverage, it wouldn’t save any money, as the Congressional Budget Office found in a 2005 study:

As it happens, the Congressional Budget Office looked at a bill along these lines back in 2005. They found that the legislation wouldn’t change the number of the uninsured and would save the federal government about $12 billion between 2007 and 2015. That is to say, it would do very little in the aggregate.

In the end, if Montanans help send Dennis Rehberg to the Senate, they could very well see the end of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, lose the ability to ensure their children until they are out of college, and exacerbate the health care crisis that has drained the American economy for decades.

Rehberg’s replacement? A failure on every level.

This might be the very best he can offer:

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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