Tom Cotton, the Republican candidate for the Senate from Arkansas, has a habit of saying egregiously stupid and dishonest things, but his claim during a campaign debate that those with pre-existing conditions just loved being thrown into high-risk insurance pools where they were still routinely denied coverage before the Affordable Care Act was passed.
But in his second and final debate Tuesday night against Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, he went further, claiming the high-risk insurance pools that many states ran before Obamacare’s passage were better for people with pre-existing conditions than the current exchanges.
“Many people were happy with their coverage under the high-risk pool, before it was eliminated,” Cotton said. “They should have been allowed to keep that choice.”
Pryor shot back, saying his personal experience proved otherwise. “I am a cancer survivor,” he said. “I have been in the high-risk pool. I have lived there. It is no place for any Arkansan to be. If we go back to the high-risk pool, it’s like throwing sick people to the wolves.”Many of the high risk pools Cotton praised were known for their sky-high costs, exclusion of many applicants, and strict limits on what care is covered. In Arkansas, out of pocket costs for patients in such pools could be as high as $20,000 and those with pre-existing conditions had an average 6 month waiting period for care.
Americans who could not afford or qualify for the program and lacked an offer of employer-based coverage, were forced to turn to the individual health care market, where they were routinely denied coverage. Common disqualifications included diabetes, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, quadriplegia, Parkinson’s disease and AIDS/HIV or even relatively mild health issues like acne.
Yeah, if there’s one thing people with chronic disorders love, it’s not having access to medical care to treat their illnesses. It was like a utopia for them.