By now, Jimmy Kimmel's tearful monologue about his newborn baby son needing surgery to fix a heart defect has gone viral. Kimmel used his son's situation to plead for Obamacare to stay in place.
The Daily Wire's Michael Knowles summed up the situation perfectly:
Indeed, everyone wishes Kimmel's baby all the best but it is not a case for Obamacare. Here are five reasons why.
1. The hospital that treated Kimmel's baby is a private charity hospital.
Indeed, the Children Hospital Los Angeles' website states:
Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution that provides pediatric health care and helps our patients more than 528,000 times each year in a setting designed just for their needs. Our history began in 1901 in a small house on the corner of Alpine and Castelar Streets (now Hill St. in Chinatown) and today our medical experts offer more than 350 pediatric specialty programs and services to meet the needs of our patients.
CHLA is a provider of more than $232.6 million in community benefits annually to children and families. As the first and largest pediatric hospital in Southern California, CHLA relies on the generosity of philanthropists in the community to support compassionate patient care, leading-edge education of the caregivers of tomorrow and innovative research efforts that impact children at our hospital and around the world.
2. What that means is that private charity is a valid solution to help those who are in need, which is the point that Shapiro makes in his response to Kimmel's monologue. "None of this means we shouldn’t have social support for those who fall through the cracks — who lose their jobs during a pregnancy, for example. That’s what communities and churches and hospital charities are for, as a start," wrote Shapiro. "Obamacare doesn’t solve these problems, in any case — insurance companies have been opting out of the Obamacare scheme precisely because it bankrupts them, and Medicaid coverage has been shown to have little or no impact on life expectancy. That's why more options in health care decreases cost and makes health care more affordable to those who are poorer."
In other words, private charities like CHLA have proven to be more effective at providing healthcare to the needy than government-run schemes like Obamacare. What happened with Kimmel's baby is illustrative of that rather than a case in favor of Obamacare.
3. Prior to Obamacare, people were not dying in the streets as the result of being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. Health care policy wonk Avik Roy pointed out in Forbes that employer-sponsored and government-run health insurance plans were already required to cover pre-existing conditions prior to Obamacare, which accounted for "90% of Americans with health insurance." The only place where such denials of coverage could occur was through the individual market, but even then it was a small number of people. Roy pointed to the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a program established under Obamacare to provide "heavily subsidized coverage under PCIP if they had documented proof that they had been denied coverage by an insurance company and had a pre-existing condition" from 2010 to 2014. The highest number of people who signed up for the program was 114,959 — suggesting that it was indeed only a small percentage of the population who could have been denied coverage on the individual market due to a pre-existing condition.
"For those 114,959 people, the PCIP program was no doubt important," wrote Roy. "But Democrats could have passed a 5-page bill allocating a few billion dollars a year to covering 114,969 people without upending the entire U.S. health care system. They, of course, chose a different path."
4. The pre-existing conditions mandate is one of the key factors in driving up healthcare costs. That's because a pre-existing conditions mandate creates an incentive for people to wait until they're sick to purchase insurance, the equivalent of waiting until your home burns down to purchase fire insurance. Naturally, this creates a pool of older, unhealthier enrollees, which in turn increases costs. The purpose of the individual mandate was to offset these costs by encouraging younger, healthier enrollees to enter the risk pool. But instead, many have opted to take the fine, therefore creating the death spiral of higher deductibles and premiums and insurers fleeing the Obamacare exchanges altogether.
5. Kimmel did not provide an example of a baby getting denied care due to a pre-existing condition. Kimmel's monologue, while moving and passionate, made an illogical leap from what happened to his baby to the need for Obamacare. He made vague claims about people getting denied coverage prior to Obamacare because of a pre-existing condition and jumped to the conclusion that the same thing could have happened to someone else's baby. His argument may have carried more weight had he provided a concrete example but he did not, which suggests that Kimmel was thinking with his heart rather than his mind. It's hard to fault him for that after what he's been through, but thinking with one's heart does not usually translate to good policy.
There are better solutions to help those with pre-existing conditions than a blanket mandate, but in the meantime Kimmel and all other Americans should unite behind helping private charity hospitals like CHLA to ensure that those in need are able to receive to good quality care. That should truly be something that people can agree upon regardless of partisan differences.