Resolution’s Passage Would Stop Junk Plans and Protect Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions

Washington, D.C. – Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has garnered enough support to force a vote on her resolution to block insurers from selling the Trump Administration’s short-term, junk insurance plans, with 45 Senators signing onto the bill. Now, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, calls on the full Senate to support and pass this bill, which is supported by over a dozen health care and patient advocacy groups.:

“By gathering enormous support for this resolution, Senator Baldwin and her colleagues are once again showing the American people who is fighting for them. Now it’s time for Senate Republicans who all of the sudden claim to be protectors of people with pre-existing conditions to put up or shut up. If the GOP truly cared about protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, they would join their colleagues on this resolution in taking concrete action to preserve the protections and essential health benefits that tens of millions of Americans depend on — and they would do so immediately. Republicans’ silence on this resolution is complicity in Trump’s assault on people with pre-existing conditions through the promotion of junk insurance plans.”

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

Right Now, The GOP is Actively Pushing A Bill to Weaken Pre-existing Conditions Protections

  • Twenty-eight Patient Groups – Including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, March of Dimes – Oppose the GOP Senate Bill. Writing in opposition to the bill, the groups explain, “it would not ban pre-existing condition exclusions and would remove rating restrictions based on age, gender, tobacco use, or occupation. This means that many individuals could still face higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs and, even if enrollees paid the increased premiums for many months, they could still be denied benefits because of a pre-existing condition. In short, this bill would not replace critical protections in current law.”
  • Americans Could Be On The Hook For Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars Should Existing Pre-Existing Conditions Laws Be Replaced With Those Proposed By Republicans. According to a report in Vox, “An easy illustration: CMS says that lung cancer costs roughly 12 times as much as the average premiums. So if the average premium is $1,000 per month, then lung cancer treatment costs about $12,000 every month. Sickle-cell anemia is eight times the average premium. So is multiple sclerosis. Cystic fibrosis treatment is expected to cost $14,000 if the average premium is $1,000. Those numbers are hypothetical, to be clear, but you get the idea. Americans could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars if their health insurance no longer has to cover their preexisting conditions.”

GOP Senators Have Also Refused to Defend Pre-existing Conditions from the Trump-GOP Lawsuit

  • Not One GOP Senator Has Signed On To Sen. Manchin’s 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. Senator Collins refuses to support the resolution.

Short-term Plans Hurt People with Pre-existing Conditions

Short-Term Plans May Exclude Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions. “Policyholders who get sick may be investigated by the insurer to determine whether the newly-diagnosed condition could be considered pre-existing and so excluded from coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]

  • As Many As 130 Million Nonelderly Americans Have A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]
  • One in 4 Children Would Be Impacted If Insurance Companies Could Deny Coverage Or Charge More Because Of A Pre-existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

Junk Plans Mean Higher Premiums For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. By promoting short-term policies, the administration is making a trade-off: lower premiums and less coverage for healthy people, and higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions who need more comprehensive coverage.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

Short-Term Junk Plans Can Refuse To Cover Essential Health Benefits. “Typical short-term policies do not cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits, and may limit coverage in other ways.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]

Under Many Short-Term Junk Plans, Benefits Are Capped At $1 Million Or Less. Short-term plans can impose lifetime and annual limits –  “for example, many policies cap covered benefits at $1 million or less.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]

For more information, see Protect Our Care’s fact sheet on short-term junk plans.