- Half a dozen Republican Senators have introduced a bill that would ensure the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing condition protections would remain a federal law despite upcoming legal challenges.
The Ensuring Coverage for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Act would amend the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to include anti-discrimination safeguards for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the bill in advance of a decision in the landmark Texas v. United States lawsuit.
The lawsuit involves 20 conservative state governors who argue that the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and unenforceable since it no longer uses a financial penalty. The Department of Justice is also arguing that the essential health benefits clauses and pre-existing conditions protections should also be considered unconstitutional.
If the proposed bill passes, health plans couldn’t discriminate against or deny coverage to beneficiaries based on health status, current medical condition, previous claims history, disability, or any other health status-related factor determined appropriate by HHS.
The bill states that payers would not have the authority to raise premium prices for beneficiaries based on health conditions. The bill would also set pricing limits and non-discrimination rules for additional wellness benefits, such as wellness programs.
The Senators co-sponsoring the legislation believe that they will have bipartisan support to pass the bill, even though healthcare is a hotly contested political issue.
“There are strong opinions on both sides [of the aisle] when it comes to how we should overhaul our nation’s broken health care system, but the one thing we can all agree on is that we should protect healthcare for Americans with pre-existing conditions and ensure they have access to good coverage,” Senator Tillis said in a press release.
“This legislation is a common-sense solution that guarantees Americans with preexisting conditions will have health care coverage, regardless of how our judicial system rules on the future of the ACA.”
Senator Alexander, who has continually advocated for bipartisan healthcare reform, said that he will continue to find lawmaking solutions that enforce these protections.
“Don’t let there be any confusion about it—Americans with pre-existing conditions are going to have protections against being denied coverage or charged more for their condition,” he said.