Yesterday, US Rep. Robert Pittenger uttered the “Let them eat cake” statement of the Obamacare debate. The current bill floating through the House of Representatives allows states to waive requirements that insurers cover pre-existing conditions. In response, Pittenger said, “People can go to the state that they want to live in.”
When you have the type of money Pittenger has, that might be true. He can move wherever he wants with little consideration to the impact it would have on his finances. He’s a multi-millionaire who landed in North Carolina from Texas and accumulated a fortune in real estate investing. He has neither deep ties to the state nor faces the financial burdens caused by moving.
That’s not true for most working people. They need the job they’ve got, even if it falls short on health coverage. Finding a new job in a new state and moving because of better health benefits would cause serious financial stress during the transition. Besides, if that’s the plan, won’t states that offer better health coverage get besieged with people with pre-existing conditions, driving up the cost even more?
Really, Pittenger’s statement gets back to the definition of “freedom” that the free-marketeers prefer. In their reckoning, freedom is most closely tied to the ability to spend money as a person sees fit. In Pittenger’s mind, freedom is the ability to move across state lines, as if most working people can pick up and move at will. That may work in theory, but it fails practically.
That kind of sums up most of the repeal-and-replace bills the GOP has rolled out so far.