Nolan Finley

Finley: On health care, Dems spinning mess into gold

Finley writes: "American voters appear poised to hand Democrats another opportunity to make their health insurance more ...more
Finley writes: "American voters appear poised to hand Democrats another opportunity to make their health insurance more expensive and less accessible."
Andrew Harnik / AP
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The most audacious play in the 2018 election cycle is that the party that destroyed the American health insurance market is positioning itself as the savior of health care.

And the most mind boggling piece is that the pitch seems to be selling.

Democrats are managing to dump the mess they made of Obamacare fully in the laps of Republicans. Nearly all Democratic candidates are accusing their GOP opponents of stripping vulnerable Americans of health insurance, and setting themselves up as the defenders of the very system they ravaged. 

Such cheek. When the Affordable Care Act passed Congress without a single Republican vote, Democrats promised it would make health insurance less expensive and available to everyone. 

But since 2013, health insurance premiums for individuals have risen 99 percent, and for families, 140 percent. The average annual deductible for a family policy has nearly doubled to $8,352, with an average monthly premium of $1,020 a month.

For many families, health insurance is now their largest monthly expense. And they're paying for policies they can't afford to actually use because the deductibles and co-pays are so high.

Obamacare did that damage without meeting its basic goal of providing all Americans with health insurance -- 28 million are still without coverage. Three million gave up on the broken system last year and are now taking their chances. 

How that debacle became a winning issue for Democrats is a testament to the ineptitude of Republicans, who have failed to use their Washington majority to replace Obamacare with something better.

And now Democrats are asking voters to let them muck about in their health coverage again, this time with a "Medicare for all" plan that would double the size of the federal budget,and, most likely, everyone's tax bill.

The Democratic health insurance message rests largely on baloney.

In Michigan, Elissa Slotkin, claims she was inspired to challenge incumbent  Congressman Mike Bishop, R-Brighton, because he voted to kill Obamacare's pre-existing condition protection. In a moving commercial, she tells voters that under the GOP plan her dying mother would have been denied coverage.

Effective, but not true. The bill Bishop and his fellow House Republicans passed didn't do away with protections for pre-existing conditions. Rather, it fixed the primary cost driver in Obamacare, the provision allowing patients to wait until they're sick to buy insurance.

Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic candidate for governor, is airing a similar mother-daughter heart tugger, telling voters she had to "fight the big insurance companies" to get care for her cancer-stricken mom.

 The claim strains credulity, given that Whitmer's father was chairman of the state's biggest insurance company, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, and its executives are among her biggest supporters.

In 2010, Republicans handed Democrats a thumping, to quote President Obama, because of what they did to health care.

Nothing has changed since then except the burden of Obamacare has gotten heavier on American families. 

And yet Democrats are spinning their abject failure into gold in 2018. 

Rather than punishing them for their dirty work, American voters appear poised to hand Democrats another opportunity to make their health insurance more expensive and less accessible.

nfinley@detroitnews.com

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