Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., speaks during a news conference on Feb. 26, 2014.
Photo by Bill Clark/Getty

GOP lawmaker: those with pre-existing conditions may need to move

Updated
Under the Affordable Care Act, the system for Americans with pre-existing conditions is pretty straightforward: they can’t be discriminated against, they can’t be denied coverage, and they can’t be forced to pay more for insurance. Under the Republican alternative, those protections are eliminated.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/4/17, 9:00 PM ET

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The GOP model would empower states to scrap the guarantees for those with pre-existing conditions, forcing Americans who’ve had health issues – or those with chronic conditions – to pay exorbitant costs for care.

In a welcome display of candor, one House Republican suggested yesterday that if you have a pre-existing condition, and your state tries to punish you, you may have to move to some other state. TPM noted:
“People can go to the state that they want to live in,” Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) told reporters Tuesday morning when asked if people with pre-existing conditions could be charged much more under the American Health Care Act.

“States have all kinds of different policies and there are disparities among states for many things: driving restrictions, alcohol, whatever,” he continued. “We’re putting choices back in the hands of the states. That’s what Jeffersonian democracy provides for.”
It’s quite a pitch. You have a heart condition? I hope you’re prepared to leave your job, sell your home, and move to some state that may offer the kind of protections that “Obamacare” already provides to the entire country.

It’s all about congressional Republicans and Donald Trump giving you “choices.”

Stories like these, about GOP lawmakers making ridiculously unpersuasive arguments in public, are increasingly common. The day before Pittenger said Americans with pre-existing conditions may need to move to a new state, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said those same Americans should pay more in order to help those who “lead good lives” and behave “the right way.”

And those comments came on the heels of a Huffington Post report on Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) who “told the mother of a service industry worker who has benefitted from the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that her son should get a better job if he wants decent insurance when Obamacare is repealed.”

The Ohio Republican said the young man who relies on Medicaid probably has the wrong “skills,” so he shouldn’t be “entitled” to coverage through the Medicaid program.

GOP leaders should be very pleased more Americans don’t hear about quotes like these, because they’re not the arguments of a party winning a policy debate.

* Postscript: If Pittenger’s name sounds familiar, he argued last year that black activists protesting against police violence “hate white people because white people are successful.” The North Carolina Republican apologized soon after.

GOP lawmaker: those with pre-existing conditions may need to move

Updated