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The latest battle surrounding the newest GOP health care bill involves a late-night comedian taking on a U.S. senator.
On national television, Jimmy Kimmel called Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) out, claiming the senator lied to his face and failed to follow through with his prior commitments.
Cassidy released a statement stating otherwise.
The 9News Verify team examined statements on both sides to find who in fact was right about the GOP health care bill.
WHAT IS THE “JIMMY KIMMEL TEST,” ANYWAY
The video of Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue Tuesday night has gone viral. Kimmel’s vested interest in the issue comes from personal experience – his newborn son Billy recently needed a costly open heart surgery.
Cassidy promoted the idea that the health bill, known as the “Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Amendment,” will pass the “Jimmy Kimmel Test.”
That means a family with a child with a heart defect like Kimmel’s son would be able to afford care under the proposed law.
“And this new bill actually does pass the Jimmy Kimmel test, but a different Jimmy Kimmel test,” Kimmel said in his monologue. “With this one, your child with a preexisting condition will get the care he needs — if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel. Otherwise, you might be screwed.”
Kimmel said the new health-care bill Cassidy and Sen. Lindsey Graham put forward was worse than previous efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
CLAIMS ON BOTH SIDES
Kimmel claims Cassidy lied to him when he was a guest on his show a few months prior.
He argued the bill fails to meet the demands Cassidy previously advocated, such as coverage for all, no discrimination based on preexisting conditions, lower premiums for middle-class families and no lifetime caps.
Cassidy responded with a statement describing a mother and father whose child will have insurance because of the bill, and argued some people who cannot currently afford plans would be able to under the bill.
If the bill passes, individual states can decide on lifetime caps.
Kimmel was correct that the bill would create a way out of Obamacare’s ban on lifetime caps on coverage for expensive medical cases as well as the requirement for insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions the same as everyone else.
But there is a process states must go through to enact such changes.
States would have to apply for a waiver and show the federal government a plan to help minimize the harm to those people in some other way.
What remains unknown is how strict the federal government would be about giving out waivers, which is why Kimmel and others are concerned about the bill.
Kimmel was making an assumption when he said “many states” will lift the ban on lifetime caps – it might be the case if the bill becomes a law, but not for certain.
CHILDREN AND PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS
If the bill passes, individual states can let insurance companies charge people more if they have a preexisting condition.
According to Karen Pollitz, the Senior Fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, the bill would let states wave the prohibition on charging people more based on their preexisting condition.
“It explicitly says states can wave that federal requirement and charge people more on their health status when they first buy the coverage, and also when they renew the coverage,” Pollitz said.
Pollitz said when states submit their waver application, there is a catch. She said there is nothing binding states to their descriptions that must be included relaying intentions to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions.
“Loose language about states having to submit a description is just words, it doesn’t give people any legal protections at all,” Pollitz said.
According to Pollitz, the bill said kids with pre-existing conditions cannot be turned down for the coverage available, but that might not be enough.
“(Under the bill) it’s fine to sell them coverage and insurance policies that don’t cover open heart surgery, it’s fine to sell them policies that don’t cover pediatric office visits, it’s fine to sell them policies that don’t cover cardiac rehab, and it would be fine if a state elected such a waiver to charge that kid $10,000 a month in premiums,” Pollitz said.
She recommended for parents with kids who have pre-existing conditions to pay attention to the state in which they live if the bill becomes law.
“Maybe pick up and move from time to time, because this now becomes kind of a 50 state game of chance,” Pollitz said. “And you need to figure out what would states do, what would insurance companies pressure states to do, what would politicians decide.”
Cassidy’s response said in part, “there is a mother and father whose child whose child will have insurance because of Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson. There is someone whose pre-existing condition will be addressed because of (it).”
The argument that the bill would allow some people to afford plans who are not able to right now needs more context.
Premiums will go down for some people. The bill would let more people buy catastrophic coverage, which is cheaper because it does not cover as many things.
But the bill also gets rid of the Obamacare subsidies to help people afford insurance, which will ultimately make insurance cost more for people.
When Kimmel said, “Coverage for all? No. In fact, it will kick about 30 million Americans off insurance,” it was an overstatement.
Under the bill, some people will not be able to afford their current plans and will lose coverage.
But another reason why more people will be uninsured is because the bill repeals the individual mandate, which is the tax penalty for not having health insurance.
Some people do not want to buy insurance are currently because they do not want to be punished, however, it is hard to argue these people are being “kicked off.”
According to Pollitz, the Congressional Budget Office has to make assumptions about what the states will do when it comes to analyzing the effects of wavers.
“I haven’t seen that estimate yet… but I think it’s fair to say that it would not be possible to cover all the people who are covered now,” Pollitz said.
SEN. CORY GARDNER’S RESPONSE
Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner’s office told 9News he is undecided on the bill.
This is the same thing Gardner said last time the senate voted on bills to repeal parts of Obamacare.
He ended up voting yes on three different versions of a bill to do just that.
Kimmel has a point on which to base his criticism, but both sides are leaving out some details that are important to understand.
The Senate majority leader’s office said on Wednesday they’re hoping to vote on this bill next week.
FIND MORE INFO ON THE BILL
The following links offer more information on what the bill would change.
NPR created a chart to show how the proposed health law affects different groups of people.
The New York Times calculated that blue states face the largest cuts under the plan.
Politico broke down how the bill would change federal funding.
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