Republicans Snuck an Obamacare Sabotage Into the Farm Bill

It wasn't enough for Republicans to attack just poor people with their latest iteration of the farm bill, which would take nutrition assistance away from many working poor families, but they also went clean air, clean water and clean food. Add to the list, and we should have seen this coming, Obamacare sabotage.

It calls for $65 million in loans and grants administered by the Department of Agriculture to help organizations establish agricultural-related policies modeled on "association health plans."

But the idea is not without skeptics.

"I don't know that anyone at the Department of Agriculture, with all due respect, knows a darn thing about starting and maintaining a successful insurance company," said Sabrina Corlette, a professor and project director at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. [...]

Under the farm bill, starting next year, the secretary of Agriculture could grant up to 10 loans of no more than $15 million each to existing associations whose members are ranchers, farmers or other agribusinesses.

This is tacking on a proposal the Trump administration has been pushing, widely condemned by the whole health sector, to undercut the protections of the Affordable Care Act by making the short-term plans (up to three months) available for a year at a time and potentially renewable. These plans wouldn't have comprehensive coverage for the essential benefits required in all other plans, like maternity or mental health or prescription drug coverage. They would reimpose caps on coverage, leaving people who have a major illness or injury—say from an accident with a piece of farm machinery—at risk of being bankrupt. And it would undermine the existing individual insurance markets because the cheap prices for premiums will draw healthy people out of comprehensive plans. That will leave the people who need better coverage, and who cost more. That will make premiums rise for all those people, driving more out of coverage.

There's no way this bill passes the Senate, should it even get out of the House. At this point, it cannot get Democratic votes and with conservative groups lobbying against it, it's likely to lose hard-line Republicans even if it does attack Obamacare.


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