Murphy, Blumenthal Say 133k In Connecticut Would Lose Insurance Under Republican Bill

Hartford Courant

Connecticut's two U.S. senators blasted the Republican healthcare bill Friday, saying that the measure would eventually cause 23 million Americans to lose their coverage nationwide by 2026.

In Connecticut, an estimated 133,000 residents would lose their care, which advocates say would also hurt hospitals because they would need to cover increased costs for uncompensated care as patients were unable to pay.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats, have vowed to vote against the Republican-written bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Senate Republicans are writing their own version, which Murphy predicted would not be drastically different from the House version.

But no immediate action is expected because U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently announced that the Republicans do not have 50 votes to pass any health bill.

In the meantime, lawmakers and lobbyists are working behind the scenes on the next step in healthcare as politicians battle over the version passed narrowly by the U.S. House on a party line vote.

"If you are wealthy, healthy, and young, you do just fine under this bill,'' Blumenthal said Friday at the state Capitol complex. "If you are older with previous health problems, middle-class or poor, you're under the Trumpcare bus.''

Bette Marafino of the Alliance for Retired Americans said that 84 percent of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have a pre-existing condition. That would cause major problems if a provision is passed in the final version that does not cover such conditions. In Connecticut, that translates to 522,000 adults under the age of 65 with pre-existing conditions.

Sandi Carbonari, the medical director of the Connecticut chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is concerned about annual and lifetime limits on insurance coverage that are included in the House bill.

That means that "a premature baby, born with private insurance, could exceed her lifetime limit of coverage before she is even discharged from the hospital,'' Carbonari said.

Murphy said he understands the position of insurers regarding the ongoing problems with Obamacare concerning subsidies for those who need financial assistance.

"If I were an insurance company, I don't know that I'd stick around if my subsidies were being bled out on a month by month basis,'' Murphy said. "Insurance companies have been clear that these rate increases have been due in large part to the decisions the Trump administration has made. They have effectively stopped enforcing the individual mandate, which is one of the most important things to insurance companies because it keeps healthy people in the insurance pools.''

But Blumenthal blamed the insurance companies.

"In my view, the insurance companies have failed to hold the Trump administration accountable,'' Blumenthal said. "They have failed to be as vocal and strong as they can and should be. They should be out front. They have been missing in action. ... They were advocates of the Affordable Care Act. They ought to be advocates now of keeping the Affordable Care Act and avoiding the Republican sabotage.''

"The Republican stance on healthcare has been the most historic bait-and-switch that we've seen in American consumerism,'' Blumenthal said. "The hardest-hit states are the ones who voted for President Trump. They are the ones who will suffer the most under this plan.''