During debate over the Affordable Care Act in 2009, a prominent member of the U.S. House of Representatives made clear that any new federal health care legislation must create a framework for portable health care benefits in order to prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from being shackled to their jobs.
“[T]he key question that ought to be addressed in any health care reform legislation is, “Are we going to continue job lock, or are we going to allow individuals more choice and portability to fit the 21st-century workforce?’”
The House member who asked that question was not then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). It was current House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was then and is now deeply opposed to the ACA. While Ryan did not expressly mention protections for people with pre-existing conditions in that specific statement, he did hint at the need for such safeguards because the best way to end “job lock” is to require insurance carriers to offer health coverage to customers with pre-existing conditions. What’s more, this statement unintentionally undermines a legal challenge to the ACA being made by some of Ryan’s allies.