When Republicans were making an ultimately unsuccessful push to pass a Trumpcare bill in late June, Fox News’ Lisa Kennedy Montgomery criticized progressive “hysteria” about the bill, which would’ve cost more than 20 million Americans their health care, since “we’re all going to die” anyway. Now the former MTV VJ has offered another hot take on the existing health care law: it’s all immoral.
Ignoring the well-understood connection between health coverage and lower mortality rates, Kennedy in June made an existential case for repeal.
“You know what, at least they are not employing any hyperbole at all. No exaggeration, no hysteria,” she said, in reference to liberal critics of Trumpcare. “You know what the crazy thing is? We’re all going to die. And they can’t predict — there’s no way unless they are absolutely psychic and have a party line to heaven, they don’t know who’s going to die or when or how many people.”
Less than three months later, Republicans face their last chance to repeal and replace Obamacare before their ability to do so with 51 votes temporarily ends. Like previous repeal proposals, the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill Republican senators are now pushing would have devastating consequences for Medicaid enrollees, people with preexisting conditions, and millions of others.
On Thursday, Kennedy made a case that senators have a moral obligation to repeal Obamacare anyway.
“I mean, the whole enterprise, all of Obamacare is immoral,” she said during Fox News’ Outnumbered. “All of Obamacare has resulted in human suffering. And all you have to do is look at someplace like Alaska, where people’s premiums have quadrupled since 2013.”
Kennedy’s claim about Obamacare causing “human suffering” is grossly exaggerated, both in Alaska and elsewhere. The number of people in the country who are living without health insurance hit an all-time low earlier this year. And while premiums on the individual market have increased since Obamacare’s major provisions took effect, the impact of that is offset when the premium tax credits received by roughly 80 percent of people who purchase coverage on the Obamacare exchanges are taken into account.
As the Washington Post reported in June, when tax credits are factored in, there was a 1 percent decrease in individual market premiums in Alaska from last year to this year. The Post noted:
In Alaska, 93 percent of marketplace enrollees receive tax credits, according to the Alaska Division of Insurance. So even though the average premium cost increased 203 percent from 2013 to 2017, most people on the exchanges are paying far less than they did in 2013 — that is, if they were able to buy insurance in 2013. (They might not have been able to obtain or afford health insurance because of a preexisting condition, but the ACA eliminated that restriction.)
In 2017, the 86 percent of people in the exchanges in Alaska who receive tax credits pay $93 per month, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s far less than the $344 they were paying in 2013.
Kennedy’s suggestion that Graham-Cassidy is a better alternative than Obamacare is also misguided — not only with regard to the blue states that would have to cope with a drastic reduction in federal funding, but also with respect to red ones, the purported beneficiaries of the bill.
In fact, Graham-Cassidy would hurt Alaska. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimated that if Graham-Cassidy becomes law, the state would lose out on $255 in health care funding in 2026 alone.
As a result, Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) support for the bill remains in question. (Murkowski voted against the version of Trumpcare that was defeated by a single vote in late July). But instead of trying to win her vote on the merits of the bill, Republican senators are essentially trying to bribe her. On Thursday, the Independent Journal Review reported that “Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) are attempting to buy Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s support through new changes to their controversial Obamacare repeal proposal before an expected vote next week” by including a provision that would allow Alaska to receive Obamacare’s premium tax credits even after they’re repealed for other states, among other goodies.
Carve-outs of that sort might mollify the negative impact of Graham-Cassidy in Alaska, but other states with senators whose votes aren’t key won’t be as fortunate. The CBPP found that Graham-Cassidy’s $239 billion cut in federal health care funding would result in 32 million people losing coverage. Another analysis found that cancer patients could expect to pay a $140,510 surcharge on their annual premiums, forcing families to choose being treatment or bankruptcy.
Then again, as Kennedy reminded us months ago, we’re all gonna die anyway.