You may recall that after Jimmy Kimmel's newborn son nearly died in April, he talked tearfully about the experience when he was finally able to return to his show, and he added that nobody else's child should die just because the parents weren't rich enough to afford the necessary medical care. Soon after, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) promised that any healthcare law he supported would have to pass what he called "the Jimmy Kimmel test."
So when Cassidy sponsored the new bill that would take away a lot of needed coverage, Kimmel quite justly called him on it a couple of nights ago. Asked about that on CNN, Cassidy accused Kimmel of not understanding the subject. Last night Kimmel demonstrated that he understands far better than Cassidy and his allies do how seriously bad the new bill really is, and why almost every major healthcare organization opposes it:
Below, pediatrician and medical school professor Dr Aaron Carroll more briefly and dispassionately summarizes what the Cassidy-Graham bill currently before the Senate would do:
Finally, on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, perpetually enraged comedian Lewis Black offers his own take:
My only objection to Black's segment is that he's nowhere near pissed off enough in response to the blatant lies told by politicians and other weasels in the clips shown in his segment. Just to list a few:
- Speaker of the House Paul Ryan complains that under the Affordable Care Act, young, healthy people help pay for insurance that covers older, sicker people. First, adults in the 20s pay substantially lower premiums than adults in their early 60s. In fact, the ACA allows insurance companies to charge them a third as much. Ryan's reputation as a wonk my be exaggerated, but sure he knows this, so he must realize he's lying. Second, almost all younger, healthier people eventually turn into older people, and I'll bet Ryan knows that as well. Finally, as for his complaint that healthy people in general end up paying to help sick people, the whole point of all insurance is to share risk that way.
- Another spokesweasel pretends that Obamacare is somehow opposed to capitalism. But its basic blueprint was proposed in the 1990s by the conservative Heritage Foundation and pushed in Massachusetts by Republican Governor (and later Republican presidential nominee) Mitt Romney. And most of the Affordable Care Act is based on competition among corporations that sell health insurance.
- Someone who thinks it's Opposite Day says that before Obamacare there as no crisis and now there is. In fact, before the ACA went into effect individuals with pre-existing conditions paid astronomical rates or couldn't get coverage at all, which was a serious crisis. Now health insurance companies can't turn people away for being sick. Insurance companies used to set annual and lifetime limits on coverage, leaving sick people to fend for themselves after a certain point. Now they can't. Insurance companies used to routinely "rescind" (cancel) policies for people who got expensively sick. Now they can do it only in cases of actual fraud. Bankruptcies caused by medical bills were far higher than now.
- So where's the crisis now? It's true that Obamacare hasn't fixed everything, and while the vast majority of people purchasing policies on the exchanges are shielded from premium increases, some are paying more, and deductibles are rising. But that was true before the ACA passed as well. As a businessman I bought my own insurance, and my premiums kept going up and up and I switched to higher deductibles as a way of holding down the increases.
- What about having to buy insurance you don't need? First, you can't predict whether you might get sick. (My youngest brother stayed very healthy until he got cancer.) OK, it's true that you can be pretty sure you won't need a few kinds of coverage. Men can't get pregnant so it might seem silly that policies theoretically include coverage for male pregnancy, but it also doesn't cost insurance companies a dime to provide that coverage. If anything it saves them the cost of tracking two different types of policy. And nobody that I recall ever complained about the fact that even pre-Obamacare, women's insurance policies m made no special exceptions for prostate or testicular cancer.