The Corner

Political Football

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Union, was on Face the Nation this weekend expressing concern about the possible impact of Obamacare repeal on his members. He has said, “A lot of people that played this game benefited from the Affordable Care Act because they were able to buy insurance, even though all of them had pre-existing conditions.”

Most Republicans have been saying that a replacement for Obamacare should include a continuous-coverage protection for people with pre-existing conditions. If that protection is enacted, anyone with a pre-existing condition who had maintained coverage would be able to buy similar coverage at the same rate as people without pre-existing conditions. That should resolve Smith’s concern.

As the previous link attests, I’ve defended continuous-coverage protection. But the fact that it would help the players is a minor downside of the idea. It means that premiums would be higher for everyone in the insurance pool who didn’t play for the NFL than they otherwise would be. And these people would be paying more to help people who a) are well-compensated, b) have compensation that reflects the health risks they take on, and c) have a union to negotiate for such compensation. Smith, of course, is paid to look after his members’ economic interests. There is no reason the rest of us should rank them high among our concerns.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.