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Support for “Skinny Repeal” Is Looking Thinner and Thinner

Once more the people who know health care the best think the latest Republican plan to repeal and delay is the worst

(Nashville, Tennessee) From the left to the right, from the expert to the voter, more and more people are coming out against the Senate Republicans’ latest health care repeal scheme – known as “Skinny Repeal” – which is just another name for repeal and delay. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the plan would cut coverage for 16 million Americans next year and raise premiums by 20%.

Sure enough, last night, a bipartisan group of governors, including Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, came out against the scheme – saying it would destabilize the markets, raise premiums and leave more people without insurance. They are not alone. More and more stakeholders – from the American Medical Association to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to AARP- and health experts agree that the skinny plan would be a disaster.

The support for “Skinny Repeal” is growing more and more thin by the day. Take a look for yourself…

REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS: “SKINNY REPEAL” PLAN WOULD RAISE PREMIUMS AND LEAVE PEOPLE WITHOUT INSURANCE

Bipartisan Group Of Governors: “Skinny Repeal” “Is Expected To Accelerate Health Plans Leaving The Individual Market, Increase Premiums, And Result In Fewer Americans Having Access To Coverage.” “The Senate should also reject efforts to amend the bill into a ‘skinny repeal,’ which is expected to accelerate health plans leaving the individual market, increase premiums, and result in fewer Americans having access to coverage.” [Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Steve Bullock (D-MT), Brian Sandoval (R-NV), Larry Hogan (R-MD), Tom Wolf (D-PA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), Charlie Baker (R-MA), John Kasich (R-OH), Phil Scott (R-VT), 7/26/17]

STAKEHOLDERS: THE SKINNY PLAN REPEAL WOULD DESTABILIZE THE MARKETS AND INCREASE PREMIUMS

American Medical Association: “Skinny Repeal” Will Lead “To Adverse Selection That Would Increase Premiums And Destabilize The Individual Market.” “There has been considerable speculation regarding a so-called “skinny package” that would primarily eliminate penalties related to the individual and employer mandates and provide tax cuts to device manufactures and the health insurance industry. Eliminating the mandate to obtain coverage only exacerbates the affordability problem that critics say they want to address. Instead, it leads to adverse selection that would increase premiums and destabilize the individual market.” [AMA, 7/26/17]

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: “A System That Allows People To Purchase Coverage Only When They Need It Drives Up Costs For Everyone.” “If there is no longer a requirement for everyone to purchase coverage, it is critical that any legislation include strong incentives for people to obtain health insurance and keep it year-round. A system that allows people to purchase coverage only when they need it drives up costs for everyone.” [New York Times, 7/26/17]

American Academy Of Actuaries Health Practice Council: Repealing The Individual Mandate Would Raise Premiums And Costs To The Federal Government. “Eliminating the mandate, by lowering financial penalties or exempting particular categories of individuals from its requirements, would likely have significant implications for health insurance coverage and costs both to consumers and the federal government….Eliminating the individual mandate would lead to premium increases….Higher premiums could lead to increased federal government costs for premium subsidies.” [American Academy of Actuaries, 7/25/17]

AARP: “AARP Has Vigorously Opposed All Of The Measures That Would Increase Costs And Strip Away Needed Health Care Coverage From Older Americans – And Will Continue To Fight Against Any Bill That Would Increase Costs And Lower Benefits.” “Senate leaders now hope they can convince a majority of senators to vote for a scaled-back bill that is being called a ‘skinny’ repeal bill… The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not published a score for this specific measure. But actuaries and the CBO in the past have said that if the individual mandate were eliminated, 15 million fewer people would have insurance, and premiums for older adults would escalate because many healthy people would drop their coverage and insurers would be left covering older and sicker Americans… AARP has vigorously opposed all of the measures that would increase costs and strip away needed health care coverage from older Americans — and will continue to fight against any bill that would increase costs and lower benefits.” [AARP, 7/26/17]

HEALTH EXPERTS: THE SKINNY PLAN IS A TROJAN HORSE THAT WOULD RAISE PREMIUMS AND BE A DISASTER FOR THE INDIVIDUAL MARKET

Atul Gawande, Harvard School of Public Health: “‘Skinny Repeal’ Is A Known Disaster.” “‘Skinny repeal’ is a known disaster. 1995: WA state repealed mandate; kept guaranteed issue. 1999: no insurers left.” [Tweet, 7/26/17]

Los Angeles Times: When Washington State Repealed The Individual Mandate, Double-Digit Rate Increases Followed Before Insurers Pulled Out Of The Market. “When the new Legislature convened in 1995, GOP lawmakers set about pulling apart the law, bringing along Democrats who feared Republicans would repeal it through a ballot measure if they didn’t cooperate. The hastily crafted repeal — which the Legislature sent to the governor in three months — kept some popular parts of the law such as the guarantee that everyone could get coverage, even if they were sick. It scrapped parts voters didn’t like, including the requirement that state residents have health insurance. The state’s insurance market started teetering soon afterward. First, health insurers sought a series of double-digit rate hikes in 1995 and 1996. The health plans warned that with no requirement to have coverage, people were signing up for insurance only when they got sick, sending costs skyrocketing. Then, in November 1998, Premera Blue Cross, one of the state’s leading insurers, announced it would stop selling health plans, citing more than $100 million in losses. Regence and Group Health Cooperative, the state’s other two leading plans, quickly followed.” [LA Times, 5/31/17]

Robert Greenstein, Center On Budget Policies And Priorities: “In Short, The ‘Skinny Repeal’ Bill Is A Trojan Horse Designed To Resuscitate The Effort To Repeal Large Parts Of The ACA And Impose Big Medicaid Cuts That Would Jeopardize Coverage For Millions Of The Nation’s Neediest People.” “In short, the ‘skinny repeal’ bill is a Trojan horse designed to resuscitate the effort to repeal large parts of the ACA and impose big Medicaid cuts that would jeopardize coverage for millions of the nation’s neediest people.  Indeed, when asked today whether Medicaid cuts would be in the “skinny repeal” bill, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn replied, ‘No, I think people understand we’ll address the Medicaid issue when we conference with the House.’” [CBPP, 7/26/17]

Center For American Progress: “Skinny Repeal” Raises Premiums $1,238. [Center for American Progress, 7/25/17]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: “20% Premium Spike And 15 Million Uninsured Increase.” “CBO on repealing the individual mandate (‘skinny repeal’): 20% premium spike and 15 million uninsured increase.” [Tweet, 7/25/17]

Josh Bevins, Economic Policy Institute: “Skinny Repeal” Would Bring System To “Almost Complete Collapse.” “But, [Josh Bevins, Research Director of the Economic Policy Institute] says, doing away with the mandates would bring the health-care system to ‘almost complete collapse.’ This is because letting people freely opt out of buying insurance creates prohibitive premiums for everyone else.” [QZ.com, 7/25/17]

Vox: “Repealing The Individual Mandate Risks Sending Obamacare’s Insurance Markets Into A Death Spiral.” “…repealing the individual mandate risks sending Obamacare’s insurance markets into a death spiral. Health insurers have long said that a compulsion for people to buy insurance is necessary in order for the law to work, after it required that insurers cover everyone and charge everyone the same premiums no matter their health.” [Vox, 7/25/17]

FLASHBACK 2015: SENATE REPUBLICANS RUBIO, LEE AND CRUZ OPPOSE “SKINNY REPEAL”

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX): Repealing Only Parts Of Obamacare “Simply Isn’t Good Enough.” “On Friday the House of Representatives is set to vote on a reconciliation bill that repeals only parts of Obamacare. This simply isn’t good enough. Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk. If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare pursuant to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill.” [Joint Statement, 10/22/15]

FLASHBACK 2015: HERITAGE FOUNDATION OPPOSES “SKINNY REPEAL”

Heritage Action Opposed A “Skinny” Repeal And Included It As A Key Vote. “On Friday, the House is scheduled to vote on the so-called Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (H.R. 3762). The bill would not restore Americans’ health care freedom because it leaves the main pillars of Obamacare in place, nor would it actually defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood. This bill violates an explicit promise made in the budget, which ‘affirm[ed] the use of reconciliation for the sole purpose of repealing the President’s job-killing health care law.’…Heritage Action opposes H.R. 3762 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.” [Heritage Action, 10/22/15]