Pence caught in lies about insurance covering coronavirus test kits
Mike Pence, photo by Gage Skidmore.

Vice President Mike Pence was caught in several lies during his daily coronavirus briefing, according to New York Times health care reporter Margot Sanger-Katz.


Pence said at several points that Health and Human Services has designated coronavirus tests as an “essential health benefit,” subject to full coverage by private plans, Medicare and Medicaid, tweeted Sanger-Katz.

"That doesn’t make sense," she explained.

The so-called "essential benefits," were part of Obamacare and only part of a small portion of private health care plans.

"EHBs have nothing to do with Medicare or Medicaid," she tweeted. "A designation like this also wouldn't mean much for the kind of self-funded insurance plans offered by many large companies and unions."

The laws that talk about essential health benefits don't even talk about cost-sharing, she explained, and they're subject to deductibles and cost-sharing even in the plans where they can be applied.

"Also, a change to the EHBs would require some sort of regulatory change. HHS has issued no new rule or guidance on this matter so far," said Sanger-Katz. "Now, it's obviously possible that many or even all insurers may choose to cover this test, and to cover it without cost sharing. But that's not something the federal government can compel through this part of the law."

To make things even worse for Pence and the Republicans, in particular, they tried to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, which made things at least a little better when it came to cost-sharing. She cited what she called on of her favorite quotes on the topic from Wharton professor of health care management, Mark Pauly.

In an interview on Obamacare, he said that the rules are "paternalistic," and would be a problem if subsidies were offered without standards. "If they're going to offer a tax credit for people who are buying insurance, well, what is insurance?" he said. He claimed that there might be plans that cover aromatherapy but not hospital care. "You have to specify what's included."

Check out Sanger-Katz' full Twitter thread here.