Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reportedly broke down in tears after hearing that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday predicted that premiums would go up for people with pre-existing conditions and some could be priced out of the market entirely under the American Health Care Act, Independent Journal Review reports.
The new CBO score took into account amendments made to the bill by Republicans to pass it through the House. That included an amendment that allows states "to repeal certain regulations of the Affordable Care Act — namely Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), which created a federal standard for what health insurance plans should cover, and community ratings, which prevented health insurers from charging individuals with pre-existing conditions higher prices for coverage," IJR writes.
Meadows, who played a central role in pushing for the state waiver options, initially reacted to the CBO's report by calling it "good news," a sentiment echoed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who said the AHCA would lower premiums and the deficit. But when asked about people with pre-existing conditions being potentially priced out of the market, IJR reports Meadows "seemed surprised" and read the relevant paragraph of the CBO report off a reporter's phone. "…People who are less healthy (including those with pre-existing or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all," the CBO predicted.
Meadows then got choked up: "Listen, I lost my sister to breast cancer," he said. "I lost my dad to lung cancer. If anybody is sensitive to pre-existing conditions, it's me. I'm not going to make a political decision today that affects somebody's sister or father because I wouldn't do it to myself."
He added: "In the end, we've got to make sure there's enough funding there to handle pre-existing conditions and drive down premiums. And if we can't do those three things, then we will have failed."