By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
On March 26, House Democratic leaders rolled out a sweeping bill that they say would protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, lower health care costs for consumers, and reverse the Trump Administration’s "harmful actions to sabotage" the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
State waivers nixed. The Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act of 2019, H.R.1884, would also reverse the Trump Administration’s efforts to give states waivers that the bill’s proponents see as undermining pre-existing condition protections. Those waivers could leave consumers with less comprehensive plans that do not cover needed services, such as prescription drugs, maternity care, and substance use disorder treatment, the bill’s sponsors contend.
Junk plans. The legislation would also put a halt to the expansion of so-called junk insurance plans that many see as discriminating against consumers. These junk plans do not provide coverage for essential medical treatments and drugs, and they are permitted to discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions, according to a summary of proposed legislation.
Outreach and enrollment. Additionally, the legislation would restore what its sponsors view as critical outreach and enrollment funding that has been "gutted" by the Trump Administration and provide funding for navigators to help consumers in signing up for health care.
Affordability. Further, the bill would make health care more affordable by lowering health insurance premiums with strengthened and expanded affordability assistance. Specifically, the bill would expand eligibility for premium tax credits beyond 400 percent of the federal poverty line and increase the size of tax credits for all income brackets.
The proposal would create a national reinsurance program to help cover the costs of consumers with expensive medical conditions, which lowers premiums for everyone, and offer funding to states to establish their own State-Based Marketplaces, which oftentimes have lower premiums, according to the bill’s proponents.
"The American people are demanding that we support access to affordable health care—not just with our words but with our actions. That’s what House Democrats are doing today. This legislation will strengthen protections for patients with pre-existing conditions," Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor said in a statement. "The bill also protects consumers from the administration’s harmful proposals to erode essential health benefits that ensure that they have access to quality health care, including maternity care and substance use disorder treatment. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure people with pre-existing conditions can access the care they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives."
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