Health

New Health Plan May Cut Preexisting Condition Coverage

| by Ray Brown

Renewed negotiations to determine a Republican-backed health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, could mean an end to certain protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative and libertarian-leaning Republicans who refused to back the first GOP health care proposal, want to allow states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act's popular provision that requires insurers to cover certain services, regardless of one's gender or medical history, according to CNN.

According to The New York Times public health reporter, Margot Sanger-Katz, the current goal of the House Freedom Caucus member is to allow states to have the option "to opt out of provisions that require insurers to cover a standard, minimum package of benefits, known as the essential health benefits."

She added: "And they could decide to do away with a rule that requires insurance companies to charge the same price to everyone who is the same age, a provision called community rating."

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The negotiations have only just begun, but Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the Freedom Caucus chairman, said there has been "progress."

"There were no agreements tonight, and no agreements in principle, and certainly no agreements in terms of a foundation," he said, according to The Washington Post. "There was a general agreement that the progress we’re making is certainly progress, and there are good discussions, but understanding that there’s a whole lot of things that we have to work out."

But taking away the provision that protects patients with pre-existing conditions from being denied medical insurance is unlikely to be a popular policy move for both Democrats and Republicans.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the proposal would "give power back to the insurance companies, increase costs, and undermine care for people with preexisting conditions."

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And Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York called the provision "a very significant reform" that gave him concern, according to the Washington Post.

Although the Republican Party appears to be determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act, polls indicate that voters are not in favor of such a move.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, only 26 percent of Americans favor a full repeal of former President Barack Obama's landmark legislation, while 17 percent would like to see it scaled back, reported NPR.

But 30 percent of voters would like to see the Affordable Care Act expanded, while 19 percent would like the law to remain the same. 

Sources: CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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