Donald Trump went on Twitter to say that, contrary to Jimmy Kimmel's criticism, the Graham-Cassidy health care bill covers pre-existing conditions. It does not.
The Graham-Cassidy bill is, by almost any measure, the cruelest and most extreme of all Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare.
And comedian Jimmy Kimmel explosively highlighted the issue when he took to the air on Tuesday night to savage the bill's authors for failing to keep their promise to protect his son with a pre-existing heart condition.
Donald Trump, however, wants you to think that Kimmel is lying and that Republicans took care to make sure everyone will be protected.
I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great Bill. Repeal & Replace.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
Sen. Bill Cassidy made a similar argument when he attacked NPR's criticism of his bill. The problem is, it's completely wrong.
While Graham-Cassidy does not let insurers ban people with pre-existing conditions from signing up, and says that states must make sure coverage is affordable, it does not define the term "affordable" and contains no enforcement mechanism, meaning states could let insurers mark up premiums for anyone who gets sick.
A study from the Center of American Progress suggests people with diabetes would pay $5,600 more a year for insurance, women who have experienced a pregnancy would pay $17,320 more, and metastatic cancer survivors would pay $142,650 more.
But predictably, when GOP senators supporting the bill have been asked to promise that no one with pre-existing conditions will have to pay more, they have dodged the question.
Furthermore, as Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine made clear, just because insurers may be willing to cover someone doesn't mean the policies offered will actually cover their conditions.
They’re saying, ‘No, we protect you.’ But states get the right to waive essential health benefits, which right now they can not waive. They have to be provided. So you could basically get a policy written on somebody with diabetes. ‘Okay, well, we’ll write you a policy, but it doesn’t cover insulin.’ Or, you know, you’re somebody who needs cancer treatment. ‘I’ll write you a policy — doesn’t cover chemotherapy.’ I’m a woman, I’d like maternity care. ‘Oh, we’re going to write you a policy, it just doesn’t cover maternity care.’
So, the whole heart of the pre-existing condition argument is: you ought to be able to get coverage that includes coverage for your condition. But the waiver of the essential health benefits allows states to write you a policy that doesn’t even cover the condition you have. And that’s why the bill flunks the Kimmel test, and everybody with a pre-existing condition is scared to death about what this bill would mean.
This is partly why the national health insurance trade group AHIP, senior advocate AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and numerous other doctor and patient groups have all come out against the bill. Even the top public health official in Cassidy's own state opposes it.
Trump can join in with the mass delusion of Senate Republicans on pre-existing conditions if he wants. But the American people, from Democrats in Congress to doctors to patients to late-night comedians, see through the lies.