CNN host Chris Cuomo and conservative commentator Mary Katherine Ham got into a tense health care discussion Thursday morning, just hours before House Republicans on Capitol Hill were set to vote on the controversial American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare.
Ham, a single mother with two children, was railing against Obamacare's "essential health benefits," or benefits that health insurance companies are required to offer in all of their plans. Conservatives, like Ham, have repeatedly pointed to this regulation, among others, as one of the reasons health insurance costs for millions have gone up under Obamacare.
"On the essential health benefits, the idea that you gut all the essential health benefits and then there are no requirements of insurance companies is just not true," Ham said. "This is a highly regulated industry and it would go back to the state regulations. So there would be plenty of those preserved. And the pre-existing conditions part, which you're discussing, is part of this package."
Ham was referring to the fact that the AHCA, which the House is slated to vote on Thursday, keeps the popular "pre-existing condition" provision of Obamacare in place. The Republicans' plan would also allow young adults to stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26.
"That's part of balancing this whole act and trying to bring down these prices because you, sir, are paying for pediatric dental even if you don't have children. That is a problem," Ham argued.
But Cuomo pushed back, saying, "there was a reason" for that.
"Yeah, because liberals love federal power," Ham shot back.
Cuomo wasn't having any of Ham's criticism, though.
"Look, you can be cheap about it or you can look at the facts. You make your choice," the CNN host prodded.
Ham kept her cool, and calmly replied to Cuomo's jab by saying, "You can be nasty about it, or you can listen to me."
Cuomo didn't engage on that front any further, instead demanding Ham to "answer my question."
"State by state, you've got different regulations, right? The reason they built it into the was because states weren't covering it because you have insured falls," she said.
Ham then defended states' rights to regulate health insurers as they see fit.
"They were not covering all of the things, sometimes including pediatric dental for single men with no children. ...These things bring up the prices," Ham explained. "People are getting coverage that they cannot use because it is so expensive."
"One of the ways you can deal with that is by cutting some of these 'essential health benefits' because some of them are indeed not essential. And you could give people more flexibility to have slightly less expensive and slightly less comprehensive plans, which is what many young people would like to buy," Ham added, referring to the fact that younger, healthier adults not buying health insurance is among the reasons costs have skyrocketed under Obamacare.
— New Day (@NewDay) March 23, 2017