Senator Shaheen Fighting For Granite Staters By Joining Senate Push to Protect People with Pre-Existing Conditions
Last week, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and other U.S. Senators sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma urging them to limit the push of “junk” health insurance plans that cover less and cost more. These plans are often peddled by scam artists and other fraudsters who prey upon those struggling to afford health care for themselves and their families. Promotion of these plans has been a hallmark of the Trump Administration's anti-Affordable Care Act agenda.
“Ahead of open enrollment, it is crucial that consumers are protected from the predatory practices of scam artists looking to cash in on Granite Staters looking for affordable health care,” said Protect Our Care New Hampshire State Director Jayme Simoes. “Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has taken the exact opposite approach and promoted the very products causing so many so much pain and financial distress. We applaud Senator Shaheen for taking action to push back on this recklessness and stand up for consumers.”
Promotion of ‘junk’ insurance weakens the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protections for people with pre-existing conditions by subjecting them to shady marketing practices that promise lower costs but rarely deliver even basic coverage, leaving many of these families without needed care. They also siphon off consumers from the ACA marketplaces, which in turn causes premiums and out-of-pocket costs to rise as risk pools shrink. They are just another example of the Trump Administration’s sabotaging of Americans’ health care.
In the letter, the Senators’ write:
“We have heard from patients, physicians, independent experts, and other health care stakeholders that individuals with preexisting conditions are being negatively impacted by your Administration’s actions. More recently, we have seen the real world negative impact on individuals who have unknowingly enrolled in these deceptively marketed junk plans.
“The Administration’s rule on state waivers allows taxpayer dollars to go to these junk plans, accelerating the problems we are already seeing with junk plans and leaving fewer resources for people who purchase high quality insurance. Additionally, the Administration’s new rule weakens coverage by allowing waivers that increase premiums and out-of-pocket costs for those who need health care most. We have worked tirelessly to protect individuals with preexisting conditions from barriers to coverage. We urge you to do the same, including by limiting the proliferation of short-term junk plans and ensuring that consumers in every state are protected by federal consumer protections for people with preexisting conditions.”
President Trump Wants To Gut Crucial Guardrail Protections. If He Gets His Way:
- Protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be essentially meaningless. 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.
- It would be harder for people with pre-existing conditions to get affordable coverage. As Consumers Union stated, allowing states to waive essential health benefits would be “putting meaningful coverage out of reach for many Americans, especially those with chronic and pre existing conditions.”
- You could pay more for the same coverage. The Trump administration would allow states to adjust the amount of premium tax credits and cost sharing consumers receive to help lower their costs. Without the guardrail to ensure coverage is just as affordable, many consumers could end up paying more for the same care.
- Insurers would not have to cover essential benefits, like maternity care. Right now, every insurance plan must cover the 10 essential health benefits. Because states could opt out of covering these basic benefits, insurers would likely only offer policies that covered much less than they do now. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that the benefits most likely to no longer be covered would be maternity care, mental health or substance abuse coverage.
- Insurers could reimpose lifetime and annual limits. Allowing states to opt out of the essential health benefits coverage means that insurance companies could once again put lifetime and annual limits on the amount of care you receive. The Center for American Progress estimates that 20 million people with health coverage through their employer would face lifetime limits on coverage, and 27 million would face annual limits.
As Many As 130 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 130 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