Republicans are scrambling to rewrite their history of opposing protections for pre-existing conditions now that they have been caught for their years of supporting health care repeal and sabotage. In addition to scrubbing their websites of mentions of repeal, House Republicans are trying to hide behind two figleafs — a bill (H.R. 1121) and a House resolution (H. Res. 1066) — that they falsely claim are evidence that they are on the right side of this issue.
These pieces of legislation are nothing more than hollow promises that read well but in reality fail to protect people with pre-existing conditions from attacks by the Trump administration and their own earlier votes. Here’s what you need to know:
Two thirds of those who signed on to the House resolution (H.Res. 1066) voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act last summer. Of the 28 members of the House who have signed on to the resolution expressing support for pre-existing condition protections, 19 voted for the Republican repeal bill last summer. Last year’s repeal bill, the AHCA, would have dramatically weakened protections for 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, allowing insurance companies to charge people more when they get sick, for instance up to $140,510 more for people battling metastatic cancer.
All but eight co-sponsors of the House bill (H.R. 1121) voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and weaken pre-existing condition protections last summer. Of the 75 cosponsors who voted on the AHCA last summer, 67 voted in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act and weakening protections for 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition. Their vote would have allowed insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage.
None of the co-sponsors of either the bill or the resolution have shown they oppose the Republican lawsuit backed by the Trump Administration that would completely gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
And, in reality, neither piece of legislation actually protects people with pre-existing conditions. The resolution’s language, intentionally vague, includes no specifics on exactly which protections should be preserved. Though H.R. 1121 prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, it does nothing to prevent insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage or reinstating annual and lifetime limits that insurers use to restrict the amount of coverage someone can use, and it does not preserve the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits, essentially allowing insurers to sell plans exempt from covering basic services like maternity care, hospitalization, and prescription drugs. Absent such protections, an insurance company could sell coverage to a cancer patient, but charge them more and drop their coverage once they reach their lifetime limit.
If House members really wanted to defend people with pre-existing conditions, here are two concrete actions they could take:
- Support the House Democrats’ resolution that would allow the House to defend pre-existing condition protections in court. This summer, the Trump Administration refused to defend against a lawsuit brought by 20 conservative states aimed at overturning the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In July, House Democrats introduced a resolution that would authorize the General Counsel of the House of Representatives to intervene in the lawsuit and defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Not a single Republican has offered support.
- Join the House effort to overturn Trump administration’s junk plan rule that lets insurance companies discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. This summer, 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. House Democrats introduced legislation that would override Trump’s rule, but not a single Republican has signed on.