CNN's Mary Katharine Ham: “Bare-Bones Junk Plans” Were Better Than Plans Under Obamacare

CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham downplayed the harmful impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) essential health benefits package, misleadingly claiming, “I was on those bare-bones junk plans” that existed before the ACA, and it “turns out they were OK compared to what I have now.” Despite her claims that “mandating a really heavy set of benefits ... allows for no flexibility on the state level,” experts have rejected this argument, noting that repeal of the ACA's protections would likely cause insurers to return to the skimpy plans with minimal coverage, causing skyrocketing costs for people who need the care the most. From the March 24 edition of CNN's Inside Politics

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JOHN KING (HOST): To my friend from The Federalist, that's the argument Republicans are trying to make. That these should be state decisions, that that's the way the founders wanted it. Their problem is, number one, the employee-based system creates a structure that makes it hard to do that, and number two, Obamacare passed.

MARY KATHARINE HAM: Yes. One, there are already mandates on a state basis, so that part, I think, we need to make clear. A conservative state like Texas, for instance, has 60-plus mandates on what you should have in it. This was another layer that is a federal mandate, and the argument from the right-of-center is that federal mandates are not the only way to get people care, and, in fact, mandating a really heavy set of benefits that has to go in every single plan allows for no flexibility on the state level, allows for no flexibility for people who want to buy a more low-maintenance plan, not a bare-bones plan, because there's not a world in which -- I was on those bare-bones junk plans, turns out they were OK compared to what I have now.


People in the middle class, especially in the individual market, who have sky-high premiums and sky-high deductibles, who basically have unusable insurance, they would like to be able to buy something with fewer benefits, they would like to buy something that's more catastrophic, and that just doesn't exist anymore.