Fight for the Water Hole

The Looming Healthcare Drama for People with Obesity

Here it comes. Behind closed doors, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is taking shape and all we have is speculation about what will be in it. Is this healthcare drama worth watching for people living with obesity? Will the result help or hurt us?

What Matters: Pre-Existing Conditions

Let’s be frank. The ACA did almost nothing for coverage of obesity treatment. Folks in the Obama administration were too timid to require coverage for a condition – obesity – that many health insurance plans have always excluded. So decisions were left to the states and most states did nothing. Colorado was a notable exception. In 2017, the state added obesity care to its benchmark for essential health benefits.

But what the ACA did for many people with obesity was to enable them to buy health insurance on the open market for the first time. That’s because health plans could no longer turn away people who have a pre-existing condition like obesity or any of the many other diseases that obesity brings.

For some people that was a boon. Obesity Action Coalition Board Member Michelle Vicari is one such person. When she was self-employed before the ACA, she could not buy health insurance. Insurers would use her BMI as excuse for turning her down. She had to pay out of pocket for bariatric surgery. After that, insurers used her surgical history as the excuse to block her from health insurance.

Under the ACA, Vicari could buy health insurance for the first time in years and do much to improve her health. She’s quite concerned about losing that.

A Bipartisan Issue

The outcome for this legislation is up in the air precisely because this is a bipartisan issue. The ACA could use some repair work and everybody knows it. Republicans really, really want to repeal it and replace it with something better.

That would be fine, so long as people don’t find themselves left without good options for health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office says that 23 million people will lose coverage under the plan passed by the House of Representatives. President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services said that the number would be smaller – 13 million.

But regardless, Trump told Republican senators that the House bill was “mean” and he wants the Senate to pass something that will be more generous.

We’ll see. Everything is being negotiated in secret. The plan seems to be one of rushing to a Senate vote before the end of June, leaving little time to debate or even read the plan after it emerges.

Stay tuned. Lives are at stake. Neither Democrats nor Republicans want to leave their constituents out in the cold.

Click here and here to read more from the Washington Post.

Fight for the Water Hole, painting by Frederic Remington / WikiArt

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July 17, 2017

3 Responses to “The Looming Healthcare Drama for People with Obesity”

  1. June 18, 2017 at 4:35 am, Chester Draws said:

    “With obesity”?
    It’s not caught, you know.
    You mean obese people.

    • June 18, 2017 at 5:05 am, Ted said:

      No, Chester, I do not mean that. If you are curious, I suggest you read more here.

  2. June 21, 2017 at 9:51 am, Allen Browne said:

    Yup – “lives are at stake.” Health care cannot be optional. Healthcare produces productive citizens. Lack of healthcare sucks money out of our system. On one level it is simple economics.

    But bias and stigma have blinded many of the legislators. They wouldn’t admit to leaving constituents out in the cold but the results of less than healthcare for all is slamming the door in many peoples faces.