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Capitol Correspondence - 08.27.18

GOP Senators Propose Plan to Protect Pre-Existing Conditions

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According to Politico Pro:

“Senate Republicans are proposing new legislation that would force health insurers to cover all individuals regardless of health status — a move designed to blunt the fallout over a Texas lawsuit that aims to kill Obamacare.

The bill sponsored by 10 Republicans would require insurers selling plans in either the group or individual markets to guarantee coverage, while prohibiting them from discriminating or charging more based on a range of health factors including enrollees’ medical histories or disabilities.

That language would extend many of the same protections that Obamacare currently guarantees for people with pre-existing conditions, the bill’s sponsors argue in a statement shared with POLITICO — ensuring access to coverage even if a judge ultimately invalidates the health law. It does so not through the Affordable Care Act but by amending the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the main medical privacy law known as HIPAA.

[…]

But the proposal also is likely to prompt an uproar within the health insurance industry, where insurers count on receiving hefty government subsidies through Obamacare as a tradeoff for guaranteeing coverage.

The GOP bill by itself wouldn’t provide that same financial support — and it also would not include Obamacare’s various other provisions designed to keep cheaper, healthier individuals in the market in order to help insurers offset their sicker patients, who cost more to cover.

Insurers that discriminate against enrollees would be suspended for 180 days under the legislation, according to language shared with POLITICO. Health plans that demonstrate they’re not financially stable enough to accept all applicants could be excepted from the coverage requirements, however.

In addition to Tillis, the bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.”