Washington, DC — Today, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are delivering speeches on the floor of the United States Senate in support of the Protect Pre-Existing Conditions Act. This bill would block the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate protections for the 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement in response:

“President Trump and Senate Republicans want to do away with protections for people with pre-existing conditions by pushing junk insurance plans that cost more and cover less. Americans don’t want to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny coverage or charge more to cover pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Senate Republicans have a clear choice: vote to protect 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions or vote to continue supporting these junk plans and lie to the American people about it.”

BACKGROUND:

The Trump Administration Is Pushing Junk Plans That Allow Discrimination Against People With Pre-Existing Conditions And Don’t Require Coverage For Prescription Drugs, Maternity Care, And Hospitalization. In August 2018, the administration finalized a rule that expands the availability of so called short-term, limited duration plans from three months to just under twelve months and allows them to renew such plans for up to three years. Since finalizing the rule, the Trump administration has urged groups that help people sign up for coverage to push consumers toward these junk plans and has issued guidance urging states to let ACA subsidies be used to purchase these skimpy plans. 

Under Short Term Junk Plans, Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions Are Essentially Meaningless. Short-term plans can exclude or deny key medical services such as prescription drug coverage, hospitalization, and maternity care. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said allowing states to waive essential health benefits “could render those protections meaningless” for people with pre-existing conditions. Even when plans say they cover prescription drugs, the benefit is often capped at a limit, such as $3,000. Adding insult to injury, short-term plans have a history of finding ways to deny coverage after people become sick and can bring back annual and lifetime caps on the amount of care patients receive. As Consumers Union stated, allowing insurers to impose annual and lifetime caps means “putting meaningful coverage out of reach for many Americans, especially those with chronic and pre-existing conditions.” These plans put insurance companies back in charge, not consumers. 

As Many As 135 Million Americans Have A Pre-Existing Condition

  • According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, roughly half of nonelderly Americans, or as many as 135 million people, have a pre-existing condition. This includes:
    • 44 million people who have high blood pressure
    • 45 million people who have behavioral health disorders
    • 44 million people who have high cholesterol
    • 34 million people who have asthma and chronic lung disease
    • 34 million people who have osteoarthritis and other joint disorders
  • 17 million children, 68 million women, and 30 million people aged 55-64 have a pre-existing condition.