Last week, 10 Senate Republicans falsely claimed they had a new bill that would ensure protections for people with pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act survive a Trump-GOP lawsuit to dismantle them.

In reality, the bill doesn’t. In fact, it says that if you have a pre-existing condition like cancer, asthma, or diabetes, insurance companies can specifically refuse to cover the health care you need. As The Hill points out, “[…]the bill would allow insurers to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions. Premiums could also vary based on age, gender, or occupation — all of which is currently prohibited under [the ACA].”

Policy Experts Agree the New GOP Bill — Drafted by Three Chief Architects of Senate Repeal (Senators Cassidy, Graham, and Heller) — Will Not Protect People with Pre-Existing Conditions:

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: Bill “A Mirage.” “‘If the goal is to protect people with pre-existing conditions, the bill is a bit of a mirage,’ said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care research group… Under the bill, insurers could not decline coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, Levitt said, but it would allow insurers to exclude coverage for anything related to those conditions. ‘You don’t have to be real creative to imagine how this might work. These pre-existing condition exclusions were typical before the ACA.’” [Charlotte News & Observer, 8/24]

Aisling McDonough, Senate Health Policy Adviser: “Let’s Say You Have Cancer. Under This Bill, You Can Buy Health Insurance, But That Plan Doesn’t Have To Cover Your Treatment.” [Twitter, 8/24]

Levitt: “The Big Loophole Is That It Would Allow Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions.” “‘It prohibits individual premiums from varying based on health, but allows them to vary based on age, gender, occupation, and leisure activities. It would allow premium variation based on health in the small business market,” Levitt said in an e-mail. ‘The big loophole is that it would allow pre-existing condition exclusions, which were common in individual market plans before the ACA. An insurer would have to give you insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, but it could exclude any services associated with your pre-existing condition,’ he said. ‘This would make protections for people with pre-existing conditions a bit of a mirage.’” [Insurance Journal, 8/27]

Levitt: Even Prescription Drug Coverage Could Be Denied. “Under the measure, insurers would still be able to refuse to cover certain services or prescription drugs for patients with pre-existing conditions, said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president for health reform at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.” [Roll Call, 8/24]

Chris Sloan, Avalere Health: Bill Allows Insurance Companies To “Effectively Discriminate.” “Really this just prevents insurance companies from saying ‘no you can’t buy this coverage’ but this allows the opportunity to say no through price or through benefits… You can make a product so expensive based on medical history, based on gender, based on age, or based on not covering something that someone needs that they can’t afford — then you’ve effectively discriminated against them.” [ThinkProgress, 8/24]

So, Let’s Call This Bill What It Is:

“A mirage,” says Larry Levitt with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“An election season scam,” says Protect Our Care.

“Shameful,” says Health Care For America Now.

“A fraud,” writes Jeffrey Young for the Huffington Post.

Instead of Pushing Scam Bills, Senators Could Actually Support People with Pre-existing Conditions By Doing the Following:

  1. Support the Senate Democrats’ resolution that would allow the Senate to defend pre-existing condition protections in court. This summer, the Trump Administration refused to defend against a lawsuit brought by twenty conservative states aimed at overturning the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Last month, Senate Democrats introduced a resolution that would authorize the Senate Legal Counsel to intervene in the lawsuit and defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  2. Join the Senate Democrats’ effort to overturn Trump administration’s junk plan rule that lets insurance companies discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Earlier this month, the Trump Administration finalized a rule that allows insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Experts warn that this move will only increase the cost of comprehensive care, ultimately making it even harder for people with pre-existing conditions to get the care they need. Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would overturn Trump’s rule.
  3. Oppose Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. As cases to overturn the Affordable Care Act make their way through the courts, Senators should come out against Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the court, since he has previously criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.