Ten Republican senators last week introduced legislation to guarantee insurance protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions — an element of Obamacare that is threatened by an ongoing lawsuit brought by 20 Republican-led states. Oral arguments in that case are set to begin September 5.
What the new bill would do: The Ensuring Coverage for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Act “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 Obamacare,” according to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), a leading sponsor of the legislation.
But while Republicans said their bill would guarantee health insurance is available to all Americans in the individual market, experts such as Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation note that the legislation would allow insurers to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions — and that, while premiums under the legislation wouldn’t be allowed to vary based on health, they could still vary based on age, gender, occupation or leisure activities. “Insurance is complicated and the details matter a lot in how real the protection is,” Levitt tweeted.
The bottom line: While the new bill is likely to be good politics ahead of the midterm elections, writes Axios’ Catlin Owens, “time and again, Republicans have put forward ideas that would keep pre-existing conditions protections in name but weaken them compared to current law, usually in an attempt to get costs down.”