By Rich Zeoli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–New Jersey Tom MacAruthur, who is credited with brokering the negotiation among Republicans in the House of Representatives that led to their successful passage of a healthcare bill, spoke with Rich Zeoli on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, saying the key to the pact was allowing states more flexibility in how they deal with insurance companies.

“This challenge of both bringing down premiums and protecting the vulnerable cannot happen if nothing changes. If you keep every federal rule and you give the states absolutely zero flexibility, there is simply no way for them to change the cost curve. So, what I did was, one, restored the essential health benefits to the federal standard, that they had come out. It creates a robust federal standard. But then I gave the states some flexibility and allowed them to, basically, redefine if they have a better way of doing it for their citizens. If they have ideas for how they can bring costs down and there’s loads of them…There’s a lot of things states can do.”

He also revealed that individual states have more leeway in assessing pre-existing conditions.

“The biggest issue, and this is the one that’s most misunderstood, I think, is I allowed them to deal with pre-existing conditions a little differently than Obamacare does. The states, they can help rate people who’ve not had continuous coverage, which is important because sometimes people will not get insurance until they’re sick and then everyone else is left paying for their bills. It’s like getting insurance on your home after it’s already on fire. So, I give the state’s some flexibility to evaluate those situations, but only if they create a risk pool to help the people that might be caught up in that. Because there are many other people who don’t have insurance because they lose a job or other things.”

MacArthur stated his plan is the best way to fix a structure that, he insists, is continuing to implode.

“It tries to help the system survive and, make no mistake about it, it’s collapsing. New Jersey, for example, had six insurers in the individual market place just 18 months ago, today we have two. A third of US counties only have one…That’s what we’ve had to respond to and that’s what we had to fix.”

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