Legislation

Published on April 17th, 2019 | by Guest Contributor

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Sen. Portman Plays Both Sides with New Health Care Bill

In a Surprise to No One, Sen. Portman Plays Both Sides with New Health Care Bill

By Amanda Wurst, State Director, Protect Our Care

Follow @AmandaWurst on Twitter

Senate Republicans have spent a decade trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, voting time and time again for repealing health care on the floor of the U.S. Senate. However, in the past couple of years, they’ve started to realize people like the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions, and they have changed their tune accordingly. However, despite what they are now telling their constituents, the bills they’re supporting in Congress say otherwise.

While the Trump administration fights against the future of the ACA in the courts (Editor’s note: Congressional Republicans could step in on the lawsuit, but refuse to), Senate Republicans are taking one last whack at the health care piñata.

What this new bill is all about

Republicans’ “Protect Act” claims to guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions would get the care they need and not be charged more. That is false. The bill gives power back to insurance companies to charge women and older adults more and sell people plans that do not include comprehensive coverage.

For starters, insurance companies would once again be able to refuse to cover essential health benefits, such as hospitalization, mental health, maternity care, and prescription drugs. This puts artificial barriers up for people with pre-existing conditions. For example, someone with cancer may be sold a plan but denied prescription drug coverage. These types of restrictions were the norm pre-ACA, and the “Protect Act” takes us back to the days when your insurance card might have been a really expensive piece of plastic in your wallet.

Speaking of not covering maternity care, the ‘Protect Act’ would also let insurance companies charge women more than men. Before the Affordable Care Act’s protections, women were often charged up to 50 percent more than men for the same coverage. On top of that, older Americans could face an age tax.

Under something like the ‘Protect Act’, people with pre-existing conditions would once again face the prospect of bankruptcy because insurance companies would have the power to restrict the amount of care someone can receive per year. By eliminating the current protection against lifetime and annual limits, Republicans would let insurance companies cap the amount of care a patient with pre-existing conditions may get.

What can we do about it

Portman, who is co-sponsoring this bill, has claimed that it maintains pre-existing conditions protections. But Ohioans can see right through the veneer of this attempt to rewrite his history on health care. Please let him know that you do not support the “Protect Act” and want him to engage in meaningful health care reform that will protect our care.

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