Indiana State Treasurer and Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock, who prevailed over Sen. Dick Luger (R–IN) in last month’s Indiana primary told a local newspaper that employers ought to be able to deny health insurance to people with cancer.
In an interview with News and Tribune, Mourdock said that health care will be the “biggest issue” in the upcoming November election. He posed the example of an employer who decided to cover everything but cancer (from Think Progress).
“Does that employer have the right to do it? I would say yes they do if they want to keep their health care costs down but it also means it’s less likely you’re going to want to work here. If that employer wants to get the best employees coming in the door he’s going to offer the best insurance possible.”
State Democrats immediately responded.
“More than 30,000 Hoosiers are diagnosed with cancer every year. Almost 13,000 die. Every one of us has been touched by someone who has had to suffer an illness that not only threatens lives, but wipes families out financially,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said in a statement. “Richard Mourdock wants to gamble not just Hoosiers’ health but our financial security in the name of his tea party agenda.”
Faced with Democrats’ recent attacks that he wouldn’t require insurance companies to cover catastrophic illnesses like cancer, his campaign tried to walk back his callous remarks, saying, “Simply put, Richard was making the point that a company that discontinued insurance coverage of life-threatening ailments would immediately become an unattractive place to work. In no way, shape or form does Richard support companies discontinuing such insurance coverage, and any attempt to say otherwise is a complete falsehood.”
Protections for people who are sick or have pre-existing conditions are among the most popular in the Affordable Care Act. Those provisions are due to take effect in 2014, however, children under the age of 19 are already enjoying the protections in job-related as well as individual plans that were issued after March 23, 2010. But in the America Mourdock envisions, all bets would be off and employers, as well as insurers, could close the doors on those who are unfortunate enough to be stricken with a catastrophic illness.
According to a Congressional investigation, the four largest insurers in the nation, Aetna, Humana, United Health Group and Well Point, denied coverage to 651,000 people over a three-year period. That averages out to one out of every seven applicants. In a memo released in 2010 by Energy and Commerce Chairmen Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak, both Democrats, it states that since 2007, denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions has risen each year, outpacing the increase in applications for insurance coverage:
“A year-by-year analysis shows a significant increase in the number of coverage denials each year. The insurance companies denied coverage to 172,400 people in 2007 and 221,400 people in 2008. By 2009, the number of individuals denied coverage rose to 257,100.Between 2007 and 2009, the number of people denied coverage for pre-existing conditions increased 49%. During the same period, applications for insurance coverage at the four companies increased by only 16%.”
But that’s okay with Mr. Mourdock, who isn’t about to change his mind any time soon. Upson securing the Republican nomination, he announced on MSNBC that “bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
Ann Werner is a blogger and the author of two thrillers and two works of non-fiction. You can view her work at ARK Stories