Press Release: Congress Revives Trumpcare Again, Targets Pre-Existing Conditions – 4/27/2017
House Republicans are again trying to revive the American Health Care Act, or Trumpcare, after the bill was pulled before going to a vote in late March. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the original bill would cause 24 million people to lose health coverage. This time, an amendment to the bill could take away coverage for even more people, including those with pre-existing conditions.
Newer amendments to the bill make it likely that even more people will lose coverage than originally estimated. An amendment would allow states to request waivers that would exempt them from certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act. States could waive the “community rating” rules that prevent insurers from charging people more for coverage if they have a pre-existing condition. The amendment proposes high-risk pools as an alternative for people with pre-existing conditions who couldn’t afford the higher premiums.
“By allowing insurance companies to once again charge people higher premiums based on their health, the new Trumpcare amendment will prevent people with pre-existing conditions from getting health care,” said Steve Wagner, Executive Director of Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio (UHCAN Ohio). “We’ve seen that high-risk pools don’t work. State high-risk pools before the Affordable Care Act were underfunded and came with limits on coverage, high premiums, and high deductibles.”
The amendment would also allow states to waive the requirement that all insurance plans provide “essential health benefits” such as maternity care, mental health treatment, and substance abuse treatment. That means people who need certain kinds of care, like cancer treatment or high-cost drugs, could end up paying more for a plan that covers it. Women will once again pay more than men for coverage to get a plan that covers maternity care and other services. This would also allow insurers to once again impose lifetime and annual limits on coverage, which were banned under the Affordable Care Act, but only for services classified as essential health benefits.
“Ending the requirement that all plans provide essential health benefits will force consumers to buy more expensive plans to get the care they need,” said Wagner. “Trumpcare would already raise premiums, and this amendment means consumers will get less while paying more.”
While Congress has moved forward with this damaging bill, House Republicans have done nothing to address the ongoing issue of cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs). Insurance companies are required by law to provide help with out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles and copays for low-income Marketplace enrollees. In return they should receive payments from the federal government, but controversy has created uncertainty over how these payments will be made. Without these payments, insurance companies will either raise premiums to compensate themselves for the CSRs or pull out of the insurance Marketplace altogether.
There have been rumors that the House may vote on the bill Friday. “Congress has already tried to pass this bill and failed,” said Wagner. “At town halls and in legislators’ offices, Americans have made their voices heard that they don’t want this bill. Our representatives need to stop trying to sabotage our health care and start to work on making it better instead.”
UHCAN Ohio is a statewide non-partisan, non-profit organization building the voice of consumers to achieve quality, affordable, accessible health coverage for all Ohioans. www.uhcanohio.org