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About Last Night: At Senate Debate, Matt Rosendale Lies About His Record on Pre-existing Conditions Protections

By September 30, 2018October 19th, 2018No Comments

Rosendale Changes Tune As New PPP Poll Shows Health Care and Pre-existing Conditions Protections Top Issue to Montana Voters, and Tester Up 4 Points — 49-45 — in Head-to-head

Washington, DC – At the Senate debate in Missoula last night, insurance commissioner Matt Rosendale became the latest Republican to lie to voters about his record on pre-existing conditions protections. Rosendale’s shameful effort to re-write his own record comes on the heels of a new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) for Protect Our Care showing that health care is a top issue to voters and that Montanans have “major concerns” with Matt Rosendale’s pro-repeal record. Said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, in response to the debate last night:

“Matt Rosendale is not being honest when he says he’s tried to make sure people with pre-existing conditions are always covered. What Matt Rosendale has actually done is work to allow insurance companies to charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition, if they will cover you at all. Rosendale’s health policies are a tough pill for voters to swallow and he knows it – that’s why he’s sugarcoating his record.”


What Rosendale Said:

“We are making sure people have options. We are making sure that other folks are being held accountable and we are trying to do it at the local level to make sure that pre-existing conditions are always covered.”

What Rosendale Has Done:

Rosendale Repeatedly, Consistently and Enthusiastically Supported Health Repeal Bills That Would Have Gutted Protections for Montanans With Pre-existing Conditions

  • Rosendale Supported A Straight Repeal Of The ACA. [KRTV, 7/18/17]
  • Rosendale:  “I Won’t Give Up On Repealing And Replacing Obamacare.” [Matt Rosendale for Montana, accessed 8/23/18]
  • 2017:  Rosendale Supported Allowing Insurers To Offer Plans That Don’t Cover Pre-Existing Conditions Or Offer Minimum Benefits Mandated By The ACA.Rosendale said states should be allowed to let health insurers offer less-expensive plans that cover fewer things, instead of the minimum benefits mandated by the ACA. Those products could be priced lower for younger, healthier customers, he said – or people could use non-insurance products for their health coverage, such as agreements with primary-care providers. ‘If you give the consumer the ability to find something that fits their budget, that fits their health-care needs and meets their personal choices, then that will help us start bending the cost curve down,’ Rosendale said. Health insurers and others have said this approach would end up pricing certain people out of the market, such as older, sicker customers. However, Rosendale said the state and federal government can solve that problem by financing a high-risk insurance pool that would offer coverage to these more costly patients.” [KRTV, 7/18/17]

Rosendale Supports Junk Plans, Which Do Not Protect People with Pre-existing Conditions

  • Short-Term Plans May Exclude Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions. “Policyholders who get sick may be investigated by the insurer to determine whether the newly-diagnosed condition could be considered pre-existing and so excluded from coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
    • As Many As 130 Million Nonelderly Americans, Including 426,000 Montanans Have A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]
    • One in 4 Children, Including 54,000 Montana Children With A Pre-Existing Condition, Would Be Impacted If Insurance Companies Could Deny Or Charge More Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]
  • Short-Term Junk Plans Can Refuse To Cover Essential Health Benefits. “Typical short-term policies do not cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits, and may limit coverage in other ways.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • Under Many Short-Term Junk Plans, Benefits Are Capped At $1 Million Or Less. Short-term plans can impose lifetime and annual limits –  “for example, many policies cap covered benefits at $1 million or less.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]
  • Short-Term Junk Plans Can Retroactively Cancel Coverage After Patients File Claims. “Individuals in STLDI plans would be at risk for rescission. Rescissions are retroactive cancellations of coverage, often occurring after individuals file claims due to medical necessity. While enrollees in ACA coverage cannot have their policy retroactively cancelled, enrollees in STLDI plans can.” [Wakely/ACAP, April 2018]
  • Association Health Plans Allow Insurers to Cherry Pick Healthier People, Raising Costs on People with Pre-existing Conditions and Destabilizing the Market
    • Tim Jost: “It Will Destroy The Small-Group Market…We’ll Be Back To Where We Were Before The Affordable Care Act.” “The result could in many cases be that these new association health plans would be considered large employers when it comes to health insurance. Large employers are not subject to the same rules as individual or small-group plans under Obamacare. Most notably, they do not have to cover all of the law’s essential health benefits or meet the requirement that insurance cover a minimal percentage of a person’s medical bills.If that change were made, association health plans would be freed to craft skimpier (and cheaper) health plans that appeal only to businesses with younger and healthier employees. Small businesses left in Obamacare’s marketplace would likely face higher costs and fewer options as the market became less attractive to insurers. ‘It will destroy the small-group market,’ Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who generally supports Obamacare, told me before the order was signed. ‘We’ll be back to where we were before the Affordable Care Act.’” [Vox, 12/29/17]
    • Georgetown Center on Health Insurance Reforms: Prior To ACA, AHPs Would Set Up Headquarters In A State With Fewer Regulations And Market To States With More Regulations. “Additionally, AHPs would often set up headquarters in one state with limited regulatory oversight and market policies to businesses and consumers in other states with more robust regulation, thereby bypassing those states’ more protective rating and benefit standards.” [Georgetown Center on Health Insurance Reforms, December 2017]
    • Deep Banerjee, S&P Global Ratings: “No One Healthy Is Now Going To Sign Up In The ACA Risk Pool, Because They Have This Cheaper Option.” “With associations, health care providers can effectively choose the most desirable participants, allowing the healthy to make the switch to save money — and potentially shutting out the less healthy. ‘No one healthy is now going to sign up in the ACA risk pool, because they have this cheaper option,’ Deep Banerjee, a health care analyst at S&P Global Ratings said.” [UPI, 10/12/17]

Rosendale Supports High Risk Pools, Which Do Not Protect People with Pre-existing Conditions

  • High Risk Pools Typically Had Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions And Limited Benefits. Many such pools had pre-existing condition exclusion periods, limited benefits, and enrollment limits; all of these characteristics served to reduce the value of the coverage, creating high financial burdens for enrollees and limiting the number of people who could access the coverage.” [Health Affairs, 3/15/16]
  • Most State High Risk Pools Had Lifetime And Annual Limits On Coverage.  “Thirty-three pools [out of 35 states] imposed lifetime dollar limits on covered services, most ranging from $1 million to $2 million. In addition, six pools imposed annual dollar limits on all covered services while 13 others imposed annual dollar limits on specific benefits such as prescription drugs, mental health treatment, or rehabilitation.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/22/17]
  • High Risk Pools Typically Had Waiting Periods. “There were 35 state high-risk pools before the Affordable Care Act passed. To control costs, they would often do things like charge higher premiums than the individual market. Most had waiting periods before they would pay claims on members’ preexisting conditions, meaning a cancer patient would need to pay premiums for six months or a year before the high-risk pool would cover her chemotherapy treatments.” [Vox, 5/3/17]
  • High Risk Pools Mean Delayed Or Forgone Care. “Even once they were in a high-risk pool, the high costs and limited benefits prompted some people to delay or forgo care, leading to poorer health outcomes and even more spending. And many families accrued substantial medical debt, even with the coverage.” [Stateline, 2/16/17]

Rosendale is Hiding His Record Because Polls of Montana Voters Show Health Care is a Top Issue and his Repeal Record is Unpopular:

  • Fifty-six percent of voters say health care is the most important or a very important issue for them this election.  
  • By a 20 point margin, 56-36, Montana voters oppose Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and instead want to keep what works and fix what doesn’t.
  • Fifty-one percent of voters say the elimination of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, supported by Matt Rosendale, is “a major concern.”
  • Montana voters oppose the Trump administration’s lawsuit to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions by a 49 point margin, 65 percent to 16 percent. A majority of Republicans (51 percent) oppose the administration’s lawsuit.
  • The survey finds Tester with a strong four point lead over Rosendale (49-45) similar to other surveys which have consistently shown Teste rahead. Six percent of respondents were undecided.

PPP surveyed 594 Montana voters on September 28, 2018.  The margin of error is +/- 4.02%. This poll was conducted by automated telephone interviews.