Commentary

Tillis: Preexisting condition issue “pretty important” but should be left up to the states (i.e. Phil Berger)

North Carolina senator Thom Tillis has a not terribly encouraging take on Trumpcare and the prospect of repealing the vital guarantee in the Affordable Care Act that Americans cannot be denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition: he wants to leave the matter up to Phil Berger. That’s the only conclusion one an draw from Tillis’ recent Facebook town hall in which he responded to questions posed online. Click here to see the video.

Here’s the exact quote:

“But I think covering pre-existing conditions is pretty important. I don’t have a problem leaving it to the states to figure out how to implement it.”

You got that? Tillis apparently thinks it’s a good thing (or at least a pretty good thing) not to deny coverage to people who’ve been sick before or who have a genetic condition or who were the victims of sexual assault, but he doesn’t want to go crazy and get the federal government involved.

Of course, the plain and simple reality of such a stance in North Carolina is to say that one favors leaving the matter up to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. That’s because essentially nothing can become law in North Carolina right now without the say-so of the ultra-conservative Senate boss.

In the video, Tillis says he finds it “hard to believe that any state would not have this [preexisting condition protection] as part of its coverage strategies” and then offers an explanation as to why it would be politically perilous for states not enact such a provision, but of course, the same thing was said way back when at the outset of the ACA. At that time, it seemed unimaginable that states wouldn’t accept billions of dollars in federal assistance to expand Medicaid, help hundreds of thousands of deserving people and save thousands of lives, but that was before a lot of people actually confronted the dark reality of modern market fundamentalist ideology. And, of course, it was Tillis himself who helped lead the charge to turn down that life-saving expansion.

The bottom line: Thom Tillis may be ready to blithely repeal the ACA’s protection for people with preexisting conditions based on his supposed confidence state leaders would reenact something like it at the local level, but given past experience (and the senator’s own penchant for two-faced pronouncements), that is one hell of a thin reed on which to hang our hats.

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