Congressman Mike Doyle’s Recent Comments on Obamacare

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Congressman Mike Doyle (D, PA-14) went on Morning Joe today and discussed the Affordable Care Act. Here are some snippets of his conversation:

Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, who voted for the initial Obama health care bill, said Thursday that members of his caucus want an opportunity to go on the record in support of allowing people to keep the insurance they had.

Doyle told MSNBC in an interview that at a White House meeting Wednesday, House Democrats told Obama about “the frustration level that many of us have” with the health care roll-out.

Doyle said Democrats warned Obama that “if you don’t give us something by Friday” to fix the insurance cancellation problem, then many Democrats are likely to vote for the pending House bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, which would accomplish that goal.

Doyle, being in a very safe D+15 district should know better. Politically, it does not look good that people are getting their health insurance plans cancelled — but the Affordable Care Act already allows these very plans that are getting cancelled to remain in effect until 2015, which means that it is the insurance companies, not Obamacare, that are canceling people’s health insurance.

Doing away with junk health plans is a feature, not a bug, of the Affordable Care Act. The sole reason why people “liked” a vast majority of these plans is because they were cheap and they never used them. If you pay $40/mo for health insurance, most people would like that plan — but if it only covers one ER visit every two months when there’s a full moon, you’re likely going to be knee-deep in debt when you need surgery your plan covers zero percent of and ends up being $10,000.

The Upton bill that Doyle spoke of above essentially changes the definition of what the Affordable Care Act already says is a “grandfathered plan.” It deems any plan in effect as of January 2013 as “grandfathered,” and therefore does not have to meet the new health law’s minimum standards. The legislation would also allow these plans which meet do not meet these minimum standards to enroll new members, which is not an fix, but a reversal of the current health law — and is a horrible, horrible idea.

Mr. Doyle, if you’re unsure what that legislation would likely mean for the majority of Americans, it’s higher premiums. Allowing these [already] grandfathered plans to enroll new people will allow all the young, healthy Americans to buy these junk plans and leave the insurance marketplaces with all the new sicker subscribers. And if you only have sicker subscribers on the marketplace, insurance costs will go up for the rest of your constituents.

To be clear, I’m all for fixes to the Affordable Care Act to make it better — as it is certainly not perfect — but I am extremely opposed to political legislation that would undermine the law. And I would have hoped that Representative Doyle would have thought about how this would affect his constituents first, before opting for the best political maneuver.

It’s also true that there are a percentage of Americans (~3%) who will potentially have their plans dropped and have to pay more:

ObamaCare Pie Graph

I’m all in for administrative or legislative fixes for these folks who aren’t super wealthy. But these ‘fixes’ can’t be brought up solely for political reasons that would end up undermining the law in the process — and you’d hope that representatives in very safe districts would realize that.

And if you’re reading this at noon on Thursday, November 14th — check out http://www.whitehouse.gov/live for President Obama’s remarks on these problems. Hopefully his number one plan is to actually fix healthcare.gov.

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5 Responses to Congressman Mike Doyle’s Recent Comments on Obamacare

  1. Is Doyle a Blue Dog/New Dem?

    • Ryan says:

      Nah, that’s why it was pretty surprising. He could be much more progressive than he is and be fine — but he’s not bad by any means; he’s about on par with the rest of his Democratic colleagues in D+15 districts.

  2. RE: surgery costing $10,000.
    Maybe in Germany or Scandanavia. Not in the U.S. for most surgeries.

    I happen to know that the non-insurance covered cost of an appendectomy for an appendicitis with a rupture, a couple of years in Scranton, just for hospital bills, was over $25,000.

    And this is a not uncommon emergency surgery, and not really an expensive procedure, relatively.
    And an appendicitis is one medical emergency that can strike anyone of any age. It’s not something only “old people” have to worry about. It’s something that happens to otherwise fit and healthy people, with little advance warning signs, and usually requires immediate treatment.

    But of course if someone is a high earner or independently wealthy, with enough liquidity, these high deductible junk plans indeed, can save someone like that money in the long run – especially if they’re lucky enough not to ever have an emergency health issue… but only because they can afford high out of pocket expenses.

    The truth is, the ACA was NOT designed to help those people, as THEY DON’T NEED HELP.
    They’ve been doing just fine before, and they’ll likely do just as well, maybe better, or at worst not much less better than before.

  3. M. Kuenzig says:

    Rep. Doyle, you must stand by President Obama if for no other reason look what’s going on with UPMC and Highmark here in Pittsburgh. People from your district, which is where I live, are getting screwed by both of these insurance carriers, you are very wrong if you vote with the republicans. You may think you don’t have to worry about being reelected but if you vote with the republicans you can kiss my vote goodbye. That is not a threat, that is a promise.