Politics

Health Care Repeal Threatens Coverage for 129 Million

| by AFL-CIO

If  the new health care reform law is repealed—and today Republican lawmakers are taking their first step toward repeal—more than 129 million Americans would be put at risk of  losing their health insurance.

A new study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that as many as  half of Americans younger than 65 have preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, cancer or other chronic health conditions. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurers routinely denied or restrict health coverage for people with conditions like these.

The new law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions and by 2014 will completely ban the practice for adults. Also, uninsured people with pre-existing conditions in every state now have access to coverage through the new, temporary Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, which serves as a bridge until 2014.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the new health care reform law is “stopping insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions and is giving us all more freedom and control over our health care decisions.”

The new law is already helping to free Americans from the fear that an insurer will drop, limit or cap their coverage when they need it most.  And Americans living with pre-existing conditions are being freed from discrimination in order to get the health coverage they need.

According to the study:

-- Older Americans, ages 55 to 64, are at particular risk; 48 to 86 percent of people in that age bracket live with a pre-existing condition. 
-- Fifteen to 30 percent of people younger than 65 in perfectly good health today are likely to develop a pre-existing condition over the next eight years. 
-- Up to one in five Americans younger than 65 with a pre-existing condition–25 million individuals–is uninsured.

Along with restoring the power of health insurers to deny coverage for preexisting conditions, repealing the Affordable Care Act would:

-- Give insurers the right to deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions. 
-- Give insurers the right to take away coverage because of a mistake on an application.
-- Limit your lifetime coverage to a fixed dollar amount.
-- End the option of young adults to stay on their parents’ coverage up to the age of 26 if they lack access to job-based insurance of their own.

Debate in the U.S. House on health care reform repeal begins today and the under rules approved by the new Republican majority, Democrats will not be allowed to offer amendments to the repeal bill. A vote is scheduled for tomorrow.

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