New health care law actually will hurt the sick, says health policy analyst at Cato Institute
A health policies expert for a Washington, D.C.-based Lbertarian think tank is taking issue with a Twitter post by a left-leaning justice organization that cheered the veto-overriding passage of a new state law he warns will amount to "government-imposed rationing."
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law tweeted about the new law: "GREAT NEWS! SB1737 is law, and Illinois will now protect healthcare consumers with pre-existing conditions."
"That is exactly backward," Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, wrote in a blog draft sent to Chicago City Wire.
SB 1737, enrolled as a public act last week following the Democrat-controlled General Assembly override of the veto of Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, will "strip consumer protections from patients with preexisting conditions, throw them out of their health plans, deny them health care, and expose them to bankruptcy," Cannon stated.
"Naturally, it did so in the name of helping patients with preexisting conditions."
SB 1737, sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago), was filed into the Senate in February 2017 as legislation to overhaul provisions in the state's insurance code. This past August, Rauner issued an amendatory veto, saying that parts of the bill imposed new regulatory barriers to short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans (STLDs), as well as to workers' compensation insurance. Rauner also indicated he could support the legislations provisions for captive insurance and reinsurance.
"Illinois has one of the country's most competitive markets for workers' compensation insurance, which has a history of modulating rates through market dynamics," Rauner said in a statement that accompanied his amendatory veto. "This legislation, much like other workers' compensation legislation passed by the General Assembly in recent years, demonstrates a misunderstanding of the true cost drivers in our system and increases regulation to the detriment of Illinois businesses and individuals, to whom additional costs will inevitably be passed on."
On Nov. 14, the State Senate overrode Rauner's veto 52-0 and on Nov. 20, the House voted 89-20-1 to override. SB 1737 was enrolled as a public act Nov. 29.
That was bad news for Illinoisans, Cannon stated.
"The new Illinois law does not protect patients with preexisting conditions," Cannon stated. "It does not outlaw 'junk' insurance. It creates junk insurance by eliminating consumer protections and exposing patients with preexisting conditions to denied care and bankruptcy."
The new law also outlaws short-term plans that last more than six months, Cannon said.
"This ban will not affect healthy consumers, who can just purchase a new short-term plan every six months, or after a brief waiting period," he said.
Consumers who are ill will be thrown out of their plans and left with no coverage for up to a year, Cannon said.
"By law, Illinoisans who enroll in short-term plans and then develop cancer or other expensive illnesses will lose that coverage when their plan reaches the six-month limit," he said. "They will not be able to obtain a new plan, because short-term plans deny coverage for preexisting conditions and because ObamaCare generally denies coverage to everyone outside of a six-week period in November and December."
Had the state legislature never developed SB 1737 or if the governor's veto had stood, then short-term plans could have covered Illinois residents throughout ObamaCare’s entire coverage-denial period, Cannon said.
"Instead, thanks to the state legislature's incompetence, many Illinois patients will face months and months of expensive medical bills with no coverage at all," he said.
That, Cannon said, is rationing.
"There is no way to dress this law up as anything other than government-imposed rationing of care to the sick," he said. "The activists and politicians who supported this law are not patient advocates. They are callous ideologues who are willing to deny care to sick patients in order to protect ObamaCare."