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Chris Collins: Repeal Consumer Protections

This morning, on my way to work, I caught a WBFO interview with Republican candidate for Congress, Chris Collins. The lies and misinformation reveal that Collins is either misinformed, trying to dupe his prospective constituents, or both. 

Collins suggested that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is exactly like the Canadian single-payer Medicare system. While Obamacare is many things, many of which are open to debate and criticism, one thing it decidedly is not is anything resembling what Canadians enjoy*. 

*Yes, enjoy. 82.5% of Canadians in a recent poll indicated that they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their health care system. 86% of them wanted the current system strengthened through public initiative, rather than privatized. American politicians can denigrate a Canadian system that is wildly popular with Canadians.  By contrast, a 2007 Gallup poll found that only 57% of Americans were satisfied with whatever private or public insurance they had.  By contrast, our own domestic single-payer Medicare plan, available only to seniors,  Whereas in 2007 45% of people with expensive private coverage reported problems with access to care, and 35% reported problems with billing, only 18% of Medicare recipients reported access problems, and only 14% reported any billing issues.  A 2010 Suffolk University poll revealed that 94% of American Medicare recipients are satisfied with their socialist, Canadian-style, single-payer plan. 

He went on to say that he hopes that Romney becomes President, and that that Republicans maintain their House majority, and add three Senate seats so that they can “completely” dismantle and repeal Obamacare. In its place, Collins suggested insurer competition across state lines, and minimizing injured patients’ access to the courts to seek redress for medical malpractice. Both of these “solutions” would hardly put a ding in the overwhelming cost of health care in this country, and would do absolutely nothing to guarantee universal coverage, or to shut the emergency room-as-primary care payment budget hole that our taxes fill. 

But the question that wasn’t asked is, what would result from an immediate repeal of Obamacare? Here are the provisions that have already become active

  • Expand the FDA’s ability to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices) ( Citation: An entire section of the bill, called Title VII, is devoted to this, starting on page 766 )

  • An increase in the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less) ( Citation: Page 235, sec. 2501 )

  • Established a non-profit group, that the government doesn’t directly control, PCORI, to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money. ( Citation: Page 684, sec. 1181)

  • Requires chain restaurants like McDonalds display how many calories are in all of their foods, so people can have an easier time making choices to eat healthy. ( Citation: Page 518, sec. 4205 )

  • Creates a “high-risk pool” for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of “pre-existing conditions” altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered “pre-existing conditions” can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them. ( Citation: Page 49, sec. 1101Page 64, sec. 2704, and Page 65, sec. 2702 )

  • Forbids insurance companies from discriminating based on a disability, or because they were the victim of domestic abuse in the past (yes, insurers really did deny coverage for that) ( Citation: Page 66, sec. 2705 )

  • Renews some old policies, and calls for the appointment of various positions.

  • Creates a new 10% tax on indoor tanning booths. ( Citation: Page 942, sec. 5000B )

  • Forbids health insurance companies from telling customers that they won’t get any more coverage because they have hit a “lifetime limit”. Basically, if someone has paid for health insurance, that company can’t tell that person that he’s used that insurance too much throughout his life so they won’t cover him any more. They can’t do this for lifetime spending, and they’re limited in how much they can do this for yearly spending. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2711 )

  • Allows children to continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. ( Citation: Page 34, sec. 2714 )

  • Eliminates “pre-existing conditions” exclusions for kids under the age of 19. ( Citation: Page 64, sec. 2704 and Page 76, sec. 1255 )

  • Limits insurers’ ability to change the amount customers have to pay for their plans. ( Citation: Page 66, sec. 2794 )

  • Helps close the “Medicare Gap” by paying rebates to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend. ( Citation: Page 398, sec. 3301 )

  • Prohibits insurers from dropping customers once they get sick. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2712 )

  • Requires insurers to be transparent about fees. (Instead of just “administrative fee”, they have to be more specific).

  • Requires insurers to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they’re turned down. ( Citation: Page 42, sec. 2719 )

  • Increases anti-fraud funding, and new ways to stop fraud are created. ( Citation: Page 718, sec. 6402 )

  • Medicare extends to smaller hospitals. ( Citation: Starting on page 363, the entire section “Part II” seems to deal with this )

  • Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.

  • Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly. ( Citation: Page 511, sec. 4202 )

  • A new website is made to give people insurance and health information. (http://www.healthcare.gov/ ). ( Citation: Page 55, sec. 1103 )

  • A credit program is made that will make it easier for business to invest in new ways to treat illness by paying half the cost of the investment. (Note – this program was temporary. It already ended) ( Citation: Page 849, sec. 9023 )

  • A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they’re not price-gouging customers. (Citation: Page 41, sec. 1101 )

  • A limit is placed on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. Basically, your insurer isn’t paying for the Aspirin you bought for that hangover. ( Citation: Page 819, sec. 9003 )

  • Employers need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms. ( Citation: Page 819, sec. 9002 )

  • Any new health plans must provide preventive care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge. ( Citation: Page 33, sec. 2713 )

What the ACA really amounts to is a consumer protection act. While Collins and his ilk will call this a job-killing tax on the middle class, or something, it really amounts to a prohibition against insurance companies from engaging in predatory practices against its ratepayers. It provides better protections for consumers.  

The question is – why does Chris Collins want to repeal all of the consumer protections that have gone into effect? 

Collins also suggested that an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended to all Americans, including him and those like him with millions in income. The Obama plan would extend those tax cuts only to the middle class, and revert back to Clinton-era, pre-9/11 rates for those making more than $250,000 per year. 

Under Bill Clinton, unemployment dropped steadily from over 7% in 1993 to 4.4% by the late 90s. To suggest, therefore, that reverting tax rates to what we had in the 90s would stymie employment growth versus the situation we have now – with anemic jobs growth and the Bush tax cuts in place – strains credulity. 

Collins suggested that reverting to the Clinton-era tax rates for those making over $250,000 per year would be a “wet blanket” on job growth. However, only 3.5% of small businesses – mostly professionals like doctors and lawyers – would be affected by this change. An op/ed in the Washington Post goes into more detail here

Chris Collins opens his mouth and finds himself wrong again. Almost like it’s a pattern or something. 


  • BlackRockLifer

    Contrary to Collins and the rest of the right Canadians are quite satisfied with their health care system. I worked in Niagara Falls for 10 years and we had many Canadian employees that commuted across the border. They would never consider trading their system for ours and were surprised how little Amereicans recieved for their dollars. We also had American citizens that married Canadians, they were the most supportive of the Canadian system having had experience on both sides of the border.

  • Mike_Chmiel

    Typical American argument – “if Canadian health care is so great, why do they all come here?” Based upon hearing a story about how one guy did just that.

  • http://blogs.artvoice.com/avdaily/ Christopher Smith

    “pre-9/11 rates for those making more than $250,000 per year. ” – Isn’t the tax cut on the first $250,000 of income? So, Those who make more than $250K still get a tax cut.

  • Jesse Griffis

    “…94% of American Medicare recipients are satisfied…”

    Wow. 94% of Americans are happy that they (as a cohort, older and wealthier) can get other people (as a cohort, younger and poorer) to pay for their medical care. Who’da thunk it?

    “An increase in the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare (so drugs cost less)”

    It’s funny to watch a lawyer, whose trade is in precision of language, say silly shit like “so drugs cost less” when it would be far more accurate to say “so the cost of drugs is shifted to someone else”.

    “Allows children to continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. ”

    Why is extending childhood for Americans a good thing? I would suggest treating them like adults sooner, rather than later.

    (A few notes: Collins is a type A a-hole; Obamacare is not completely evil; I’m just pointing out a few bits of silliness in the overall rant)

    • http://www.buffalopundit.com/ Alan Bedenko

      I didn’t write “so drugs cost less”. Someone else did. That’s why its blockquoted and linked-to.