With TrumpCare’s ignominious defeat in March, countless North Carolinians breathed a sigh of relief. Under that legislation, tens of millions of Americans would have lost access to health care, basic protections would have been cut, and out-of-pocket expenses would have risen for many.
However, just when we thought we were done with this poorly conceived bill, its reanimated corpse seems to have risen from the grave. Recent reports indicate that Rep. Mark Meadows of Asheville has been meeting with the White House and congressional leadership to devise an even more draconian piece of legislation that could attract the support of the far-right Freedom Caucus.
Back on the chopping block are many of the most important (and popular) elements of the Affordable Care Act. In addition to cuts to the subsidies that help working families afford insurance, leaked elements of the plan center on turning control of the ACA’s Title I protections over to the states.
While this sounds like dry stuff, as North Carolina’s Insurance Commissioner from 2009-2017, I saw firsthand how important these Title I protections are. Among other things, they keep insurers from refusing coverage due to pre-existing conditions, they ensure the inclusion of essential health benefits in policies and they ban lifetime coverage limits.
These protections are critical for the middle-class families in North Carolina who rely on robust insurance plans to keep themselves healthy and their care affordable. And the impact would be widespread – a recent study by the Century Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, found that more than 3 million North Carolinians would be at risk of losing these guarantees under the Republican plan.
As Insurance Commissioner, I saw that the Affordable Care Act wasn’t perfect and that it needed upgrades, but the Republican proposals would make the situation far worse. In fact, GOP proposals and TrumpCare will make insurance premiums higher for many folks and lessen consumer protections for most. Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to tweak the existing legislation, Republican hardliners, led by Rep. Meadows, seem intent on bulldozing Obamacare. In essence, they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Driven by a legislative agenda fueled by ideology, not common sense, TrumpCare 2.0 would be a direct assault on the physical and fiscal health of millions of North Carolinians. With members of Congress back home for the Easter recess, I urge our representatives to listen to the concerns of their constituents who would be hurt by TrumpCare and do what’s right by rejecting this bad legislation once again.
Goodwin is chair of the N.C. Democratic Party and former N.C. Insurance Commissioner.