The cold, hard facts about House Republicans and pre-existing conditions

To: Reporters and Editors
From: Andrew Bates, American Bridge 21st Century
Date: 10/24/18
Subject: The cold, hard facts about House Republicans and pre-existing conditions

In a desperate move that underscores the challenges they face ahead of Election Day, House Republicans are lying to voters – and to the press – about their record on pre-existing conditions. Period. That is the overwhelming consensus of the American medical community, nonpartisan experts, and even select Republicans.

This Republican strategy insults the American people, the media, and respect for facts in general. Their hope is that if they repeat this lie on the campaign trail enough, they will skirt accountability from those who wish to challenge politicians when they deal in blatant falsehoods. This, however, will fail.

Here is the truth: In May of 2017, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would have gutted the Affordable Care Act’s landmark protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, opioid addiction, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

The empty words about pre-existing conditions added to the American Health Care Act, better known as the GOP’s Obamacare plan repeal, as a last-minute fig leaf have been exposed as toothless by a host of medical experts since day one. No one should believe otherwise, and in less than two weeks, Republicans should brace themselves for a reckoning.

Here are the facts from a range of non-partisan experts and analysts as well as Republican governors:

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE

Congressional Budget Office, 5/24/2017: “Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all—despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums.”

AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION

American Hospital Association, 5/4/2017: “Despite last-minute changes, the proposal eliminates essential protections for older and sicker patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer patients and the chronically ill. It does little to help the 24 million Americans who would be left without coverage following repeal and makes deep cuts to Medicaid, which provides essential services for the disabled, poor and elderly people in this country.”

American Hospital Association, 5/24/2017: “The latest CBO estimates on the impact of the American Health Care Act only reinforce our deep concerns about the importance of maintaining coverage for those vulnerable patients who need it.”

AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

American Medical Association, 5/4/2017: “The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance and those with pre-existing health conditions face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question.”

American Medical Association, 5/24/2017: “Today’s estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office show that last-minute changes to the AHCA made by the House offered no real improvements.”

AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS

American College of Physicians, 5/4/2017: “This vote makes coverage unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions,  allows insurers to opt-out of covering essential benefits like cancer screening, mental health, and maternity care, and  cuts and caps the federal contribution to Medicaid while sunsetting Medicaid expansion.”

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF FAMILY PHYSICIANS

American Academy of Family Physicians, 5/4/2018: “This legislation will harm millions of their constituents. It will destabilize our health care system, cause 24 million Americans to lose their coverage, and allow for discrimination against patients based on their gender, age, and health status. Its inadequate and temporary high-risk pool funds are simply a band aid that does nothing to provide health security to the nearly one in three Americans who have a pre-existing condition.”

American Academy of Family Physicians, 5/24/2017: “Such states could return to medical underwriting and allow insurers to discriminate against individuals based on their gender, age and health status. These practices would also threaten the financial stability of millions of individuals and families, if, for example, protections against annual and lifetime spending caps are waived.”

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS

American Academy of Pediatrics, 5/4/2017: “In addition, the bill allows insurance companies to refuse to cover those with pre-existing conditions, or charge them more for coverage, meaning that conditions ranging from asthma to pregnancy to cystic fibrosis could completely devastate a family financially and leave those who need care unable to access it.”

AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

American Psychological Association, 4/28/2017: “The American Psychological Association and its affiliated APA Practice Organization have called on Congress to reject the amended American Health Care Act, noting that it would allow states to waive essential health benefits, such as mental and behavioral health care and substance use treatment, and charge unfair premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

American Psychological Association, 5/4/2017: “The bill now opens the door to health plans once again charging exorbitant premiums to the tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

AMERICA’s ESSENTIAL HOSPITALS

America’s Essential Hospitals, 5/4/2017: “The House voted today to take health care coverage away from tens of millions of Americans, reduce benefits and increase costs for millions more — including the sick — and gut a program that has been a lifeline for vulnerable people for more than 50 years.”

NATIONAL HEALTH COUNCIL

National Health Council, 5/4/2017: “The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is bad policy, bad for people, and especially bad for the 133 million Americans with chronic diseases and disabilities.Millions will lose health care coverage as the AHCA will return us to a system that allows insurers to charge outrageous prices for insurance and discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions, leading to less access and more costly health care.”

AMERICAN CONGRESS OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 5/4/2017: “The facts are that cutting $880 billion out of the Medicaid program, eliminating Medicaid expansion, denying qualified providers the ability to offer Medicaid-covered primary and preventive care, allowing states to opt out of covering essential benefits including maternity care, and weakening protections for people with pre-existing conditions all lead to only one result: sicker patients and higher health care costs.”

AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY

American Cancer Society, 5/24/2017: “Underwriting for pre-existing health conditions, expanded age rating and the option for states to waive essential health benefits all threaten to return patients to a system where they would be unable to get health coverage and what coverage they might find could have annual and lifetime limits and still be prohibitively expensive.”

AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION

American Heart Association, 5/4/2017: “The Affordable Care Act made it possible for 20 million more Americans to get quality health insurance coverage and, for the first time, provided guaranteed protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. This bill, on the other hand, seriously erodes these protections, including for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD) – our nation’s no. 1 and most costly killer.”

American Heart Association, 5/25/2017: “Accessibility means that any patient protections currently in place need to be preserved. This is not the case with the House bill which would let states reinstate medical underwriting for people with pre-existing conditions and open the door for employers and insurers to bring back annual and lifetime limits on health insurance, leaving Americans with chronic illnesses out in the cold once again without coverage.”

CYSTIC FIBROSIS FOUNDATION

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 5/4/2017: “The various patchwork solutions offered by lawmakers would still leave the millions of patients we represent, who have serious and chronic health conditions, at risk of not being able to access life-saving treatments and care.”

AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION

American Lung Association, 5/4/2017: “The bill passed today by the House of Representatives fails the millions of Americans living with lung and other serious diseases. It will leave far too many people without quality and affordable healthcare coverage, while at the same time, rolling back key safeguards that protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”

AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION

American Diabetes Association, 5/4/2017: “Weakening these rules will give insurers the ability to charge people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, higher prices. It will also allow insurers to deny people with diabetes coverage for the care and services they need to treat their disease.”

NAADAC, THE ASSOCIATION FOR ADDICTION PROFESSIONALS

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, 5/4/2017: “AHCA gives states the ability to strip substance use disorders benefits from coverage plans in their state, making substance use disorders a pre-existing condition that can be charged more for. Coverage also becomes unaffordable as people with pre-existing conditions lose protections against higher premiums.”

MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA

Mental Health America, 5/4/2017: “These effects will be felt mostly by people with chronic conditions, just as drivers who have accidents and homeowners with storm damage experience increases in their insurance premiums.  They will affect people with cancer and heart disease. They will affect millions with serious mental illnesses. This is not something we can ignore or forget as we move forward. Lives are in the balance.”

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED PERSONS

AARP, 5/4/2017: “In addition, the bill now puts at risk the 25 million older adults with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, who would likely find health care unaffordable or unavailable to them.”

AARP, 5/24/2017: “According to CBO, premiums for a 64 year old earning $26,500 a year would increase by a whopping $14,400 in 2026. In addition, people with preexisting conditions may not be able to purchase health insurance at all despite funding that would be made available to help reduce premiums.”

GOV. JOHN KASICH AND GOV. BRIAN SANDOVAL

Ohio Governor John Kasich and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, et al, 6/16/2017: “We believe that, first and foremost, Congress should focus on improving our nation’s private health insurance system. Improvements should be based on a set of guiding principles, included below, which include controlling costs and stabilizing the market, that will positively impact the coverage and care of millions of Americans, including many who are dealing with mental illness, chronic health problems, and drug addiction. Unfortunately, H.R. 1628, as passed by the House, does not meet these challenges. It calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, while shifting significant costs to the states.”