A Republican congressman said Monday that an amendment to the GOP's American Health Care Act would require sicker people to pay more in insurance costs than people "who lead good lives."In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) was asked about an amendment he supports to Republicans' health care effort that would allow states to opt out of health- and age-based pricing protections required by Obamacare, if they established high-risk pools or other equivalent measures in their place.
As the Republicans' health care crusade continues, we've grown accustomed to hearing GOP lawmakers present their regressive ideas in the most politically palatable ways they can think of. Occasionally, however, a GOP official will slip and say what he's actually thinking.TPM highlighted just such an instance late yesterday.
Health care proponents routinely argue that the Republican approach would effectively punish those who most need care. Brooks not only conceded the point, he suggested that those who most need care are less deserving of protection."My understanding is that it will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, you know, they are doing the things to keep their bodies healthy," the Alabama Republican argued. "And right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing."Note the specificity of Brooks' language. If, for example, a child is born with a heart condition, Brooks envisions a system in which that child and her family is forced to pay exorbitant costs in order to help those who "lead good lives" and behave "the right way."As New York's Jon Chait put it, "The Republican plan expresses one of the core beliefs shared by movement conservatives, and utterly alien to people across the globe, right and left: that people who can't afford the cost of their own medical care have nobody to blame but themselves."It's important to note that in the same CNN interview, Brooks went on to say some Americans have pre-existing conditions "through no fault of their own." It's a welcome concession, to be sure. But the Republican congressman added that it's a "challenge" to determine how the system should try to help those people, and that'll be something policymakers may have to work on "over the years ... as we go forward."In other words, the key is to uproot the system now, leave millions of families without access to affordable care, and put many struggling people at a dangerous disadvantage -- and then eventually, Republicans might consider ideas to help those in need.Brooks' candor is elucidating, and to a very real extent, his comments should help shape the debate on Capitol Hill. To support the Republicans' American Health Care Act is to effectively endorse Brooks' approach to protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.