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Republicans' brave new strategy for fixing the U.S. health-care system

Catherine Rampell on

What, people in Tennessee don't get cancer? People in Hawaii don't give birth or have heart attacks? Adverse selection isn't a problem in Alaska?

Generally speaking, diseases and laws of economics don't recognize state borders.

What's more, under Obamacare, states already have the flexibility to experiment and innovate. Under current law, states can apply for waivers if they wish to adapt their regulations to local conditions.

But the Affordable Care Act says they can do so only if they adhere to basic consumer protections and a minimum level of quality. Cassidy-Graham includes vague language about how states should offer "adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions," but there's zero enforcement mechanism to guarantee they do so.

It's no wonder that nearly every major stakeholder, from the American Medical Association to the March of Dimes, has come out against this lily-livered bill. Cassidy-Graham is an abdication not only of any responsibility to the poor and the sick but also of congressional leadership more generally.

 

When it comes down to it, Senate Republicans aren't trying to improve the health-care system. They're trying to duck responsibility when they make it worse.

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Catherine Rampell's email address is crampell@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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