Politics & Government

Report: Kilmer, Newhouse sent out misleading info on health care

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, right, has sent out letters that misconstrue the effects of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. A recent ProPublica investigation found that both Kilmer and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, have disseminated incorrect or misleading information about health care policy.
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, right, has sent out letters that misconstrue the effects of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. A recent ProPublica investigation found that both Kilmer and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, have disseminated incorrect or misleading information about health care policy. The Peninsula Gateway

As debate rages over the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, members of Congress are making dubious claims about health care policy to their constituents, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica reported Wednesday.

Members of Washington’s delegation — U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside — were among those cited in the story, which sought to fact-check lawmakers’ letters to voters.

Kilmer wrote that 24 million Americans would “lose their insurance” and that premiums would rise 10-15 percent on average under the Republican plan, known as the American Health Care Act.

A nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report does say 24 million fewer people would have health coverage by 2026 under the AHCA. But that includes some who would choose to let go of their insurance because it’s no longer mandatory under the ACA.

Premiums also would rise: The CBO report says they would be 15-20 percent higher in 2018 and 2019 than under Obamacare.

Kilmer doesn’t note, however, that insurance premiums would be lower than under Obamacare after that, according to the CBO report.

“Whether folks lose their insurance or choose not to buy it because of sticker shock, having fewer people in the healthcare system is a bad outcome for all Americans,” said Jason Phelps, a spokesman for Kilmer, in a statement.

For his part, Newhouse misstated why Medicaid cost more per person than expected in 2015, blaming it, in part, on people looking for care in emergency rooms because they had trouble finding a doctor, ProPublica reported.

An actuarial report cited by Newhouse cites various reasons for the higher costs, one being patients who were sicker than expected and needed more care after being previously uninsured, according to ProPublica. It does not make the claim that people struggling to find a doctor contributed to the higher costs, however.

ProPublica reported that neither Newhouse nor Kilmer responded to its reporter’s inquiries. Newhouse couldn’t be immediately reached for comment by The News Tribune and The Olympian on Wednesday.

Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826, @walkerorenstein

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