Friday, December 15, 2017

Quinn Spin Vol. 1: Pre-Existing Conditions

We are thoroughly disgusted with State Assembly Rep Romaine Quinn’s (R-Birchwood) recent attempts to spin a late-night partisan parlor trick into false hope for Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions. It seems our “boy next door” has grown up into just another cynical career politician, more concerned with stretching the truth to fluff up his own image than enacting legislation that will actually help his constituents.
If Quinn really wants to help Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions, he can show us by working with Democrats to pass real protections --without loopholes-- for all Wisconsinites. As a member of the Republican caucus leadership, he could use his influence to support and publicly demand an up-or-down vote on Assembly Bill 363, which guarantees robust, loophole-free protections to all Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions.

It all started when Quinn was asked whether he would promise to fight to make sure that Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions would not have to pay more for coverage if the Affordable Care Act were repealed. His answer was "No," followed by some nervous rambling about uncertainty and generally not wanting to make promises.

In a desperate attempt to save face, Quinn released a statement titled "Setting the Record Straight" on November 29 that was riddled with lies. He ultimately had to retract that statement, but not before promoting it for 5 days via email and social media.

We’ll give him the broadest possible leeway and ignore that first version. Instead, let's take a look at what he claimed in his “revised” statement sent out on December 4th and compare Quinn's words to reality...
QUINN: “I already voted to protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

Quinn voted against Assembly Resolution 10, which would have required an Assembly committee to consider requiring health insurance companies to maintain equal treatment related to coverage and cost, regardless of pre-existing conditions.

How convenient for Quinn to gloss over this failure to protect “family and friends with pre-existing conditions,” but it seems Quinn wants to talk about a different bill…

QUINN: “In June, the Assembly passed an amended version of AB365.”

“Amended version!” That’s quite the understatement. Democrat Daniel Riemer introduced AB365, with language that would simply ban insurance companies from imposing annual and lifetime coverage limits.

But as soon as AB365 was taken up (in the wee hours of the morning), Republicans hijacked it with a Substitute Amendment that deleted every word and re-wrote the entire bill. The words “lifetime limits” don’t even appear in the final Republican version.

Rep. Riemer joined all Democrats in voting against the hijacked bill, and stated that the amendment did "not reflect the intent of the bill." You can watch as the Republicans make a farce of the legislative process here.

QUINN: “AB365 prevented insurance companies from imposing a pre-existing condition exclusion.”

Sure, it would prevent insurance companies from coming out and saying “we won’t cover you because of your pre-existing condition.”

But the Republicans gifted insurers an enormous loophole: They could charge people with pre-existing conditions unlimited and exorbitant premiums --effectively pricing them out of the healthcare market-- if they ever went more than 63 days without insurance. (This can easily happen if you lose your job, or can't afford COBRA coverage, or start a new job that doesn’t provide insurance in the first 6 months.)

QUINN: “It also instructed the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance to assist individuals with preexisting conditions in finding coverage.”

It didn't instruct the Commissioner of Insurance to do anything. The bill says the Commissioner may propose a plan to assist people with pre-existing conditions.

If such a plan were actually proposed, it would likely be a rehash of the old "High Risk Pool," which itself didn't cover pre-existing conditions for the first 6 months of enrollment and only covered about 22,000 people statewide.

QUINN: “Before I vote on legislation or make a promise, I need to be able to evaluate its impact.”

Funny that Quinn didn’t worry about “evaluating the impact” of the hijacked version of AB365. The brand new language was first made public at 12:14am and Quinn voted for it at 1:01am. It had not been scored by any state agency, and of course there was no time for a hearing or any comments from, say, people with pre-existing conditions.

QUINN: “Until the federal government finalizes what it intends to change in our healthcare system, I am unable to guarantee the state’s role.”

We don’t ask for guarantees. We don’t even ask you to see it our way all the time. We only ask for legislators to say what they mean, mean what they say, and remember what they said when it comes time to vote.

When you don’t do any of that, all we get from you is Quinn Spin.