On Monday evening, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) said that insurance companies should be allowed to discriminate against people with brain tumors during a House Rules Committee debate of the GOP’s bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. The law, which Republicans will vote to eliminate on Wednesday, includes a provision prohibiting insurance companies from turning away sick people.
But Dreier suggested that these individuals would be better off enrolling in state-based “high-risk insurance pools,” that could offer coverage to the individuals who are turned away from the individual health care market because they are too costly to cover:
DREIER: And I believe my state of California has a structure in place to deal with pre-existing conditions. It’s a pooling process, which I think is one worthy of consideration, because while I don’t that think someone who is diagnosed with a massive tumor should the next day be able to have millions and millions and millions of dollars in health care provided, I do believe that there can be a structure to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions.
The Affordable Care Act already includes a high-risk pool program that acts as a bridge to 2014, when the new regulations prohibiting discrimination go into effect. 67,482 individuals have already benefited from the program, although the high cost of insuring sick people means that it is not sustainable over the long-run.
The California pool that Drier trumpets, for instance, has had a hard time attracting enrollees. A 2008 LA Times article described the California program — which existed prior to the ACA — as “unaffordable, unavailable or ineffective for many of those who most need health insurance.”