This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Apparently, increasing the number of uninsured by 22 million wasn't enough for Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
Late last week, Lee joined his fellow extremist Sen. Ted Cruz in insisting that Trumpcare also effectively remove protections for pre-existing conditions.
Cruz's amendment would allow insurance companies to sell policies that discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions as long as they also sell policies that don't.
On the surface, this sounds like a win for everyone. There's a simple reason it isn't: the free market.
Imagine what will happen to policies that get to discriminate against sick people: Their prices will go down. That's what happens when you get to keep sick people out of your insurance pool. It costs less to provide health insurance to people who don't need it very much.
So, if you are a healthy person who is fortunate enough to not have been the wrong kind of sick at some point in the past (or you aren't a woman, which was considered pre-Obamacare to be a pre-existing condition), then it would make more economic sense for you to sign on to these cheaper, discriminatory plans.
Who would be forced to sign up for the more expensive plans that allow pre-existing conditions? Sick people! Cruz has created an amendment that takes us right back to where we were before Obamacare: Insurance companies are allowed to discriminate against sick people.
Lee has suggested that his vote hinges on whether the Cruz amendment is included in the final bill: The bill will get his vote only if the amendment is included.
So, to summarize, the Senate's extremists aren't happy just ensuring 22 million more Americans won't' have health insurance. They aren't happy gutting Medicaid so that hedge fund managers can finally catch a break. They also want to make sure the sickest among us can be discriminated against.
Utahns aren't extremists, but you couldn't tell based on our representation in D.C.
Jeff Swift, Ph.D. serves on the board of the Alliance for a Better Utah and as policy director for the LDS Democrats.