May 04, 2017 / Health Care

Protecting people with pre-existing conditions is a priority of mine

Protecting people with pre-existing conditions is a priority of mine. As we prepare to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), I want you to know my position on the bill.

I believe Obamacare has failed to deliver on its promises. As you may know, premiums are skyrocketing across the country with double digit increases. In Washington, premiums rose as high as 24.7 percent with an average increase of 13.6 percent for 2017. Deductibles are on the same trajectory with record increases, especially in our state. Last year, the number of plans with deductibles at or over $6,000 more than tripled from eight plans in 2016 to 28 plans. Exacerbating these high out-of-pocket costs is the continued, steady departure of insurance companies from the marketplace. For 2016, 143 plans were offered in Washington’s exchange by 12 insurers. Now in 2017, only nine insurers are offering 98 plans. In a third of counties across the nation, Americans will only have one option for health care coverage in the exchanges, including residents of Klickitat and San Juan Counties—and that’s not a choice at all. While Americans who were previously uninsured may now have health care coverage, it means nothing if they cannot afford to use it—and these numbers show that today’s health insurance is woefully unaffordable.

My goal is to repeal and replace Obamacare and rescue Americans from this failing law.

I believe that everyone, including individuals with pre-existing conditions, should have access to health care coverage. That coverage should protect the sanctity of the patient-doctor relationship; provide choice because one size does not fit all; and, most importantly, be affordable. Medicaid should be protected and preserved for the most vulnerable populations in our communities that truly need it—individuals with disabilities, the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done already and the discussions we continue to have on the American Health Care Act, including the discussions have we had about how to make health care affordable for people with pre-existing conditions.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeals Obamacare and replaces it with a 21st Century health care system.

  • The ACHA dismantles the harmful Obamacare taxes that have hurt job creators, increased premium costs, and limited options for patients and healthcare providers—including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and medical devices.
  • It eliminates the individual and employer mandates, which forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into expensive plans that they don’t want and cannot afford.
  • It helps young adults access health insurance and stabilizes the marketplace by allowing young adults to continue staying on their parents’ plan until they’re 26.
  • It guarantees coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions and bans health insurers from charging a patient higher premiums as long as they maintain continuous coverage, or sign up for new coverage within 63 days of exiting a previous insurance plan.
  • It establishes a Patient State and Stability Fund and Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program, which provides states with $130 billion to design programs that meet the unique needs of their patient populations, help low-income Americans afford health care, and provide a backstop safety net for Americans with pre-existing conditions. This includes $15 billion specifically for mental health and substance abuse and newborn care.  
  • It modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by transitioning to a “per capita allotment” so states can better serve the patients most in need, while still providing for current Medicaid beneficiaries — like those under the expansion in Washington state — by honoring the enhanced state match until these individuals cycle off the program of their own free will. This Medicaid reform represents the biggest entitlement reform in a generation and puts the program on a sustainable fiscal path.
  • It empowers individuals and families to spend their health care dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) — nearly doubling the amount of money people can contribute and broadening how people can use it.
  • It helps Americans access affordable, quality health care by providing a monthly tax credit — between $2,000 and $14,000 per year — for low and middle income individuals and families who don’t receive insurance through work or a government program to purchase private, quality coverage of their choice.

Protecting people with pre-existing conditions isn’t just good policy: it’s a personal mission.

Protecting people with pre-existing conditions is priority of mine. As we prepare to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), I want you to know that I’m a co-sponsor of the latest amendment, which dedicates $8 billion to reduce premiums and other out-of-pocket costs for patients in the individual market with pre-existing conditions. The AHCA would allow waivers to states if they meet very specific standards, including the standard that premiums for individuals living with pre-existing conditions must be stabilized, meaning premiums cannot be unaffordable. At no time is any insurance company permitted to deny access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. If a state applies for a waiver and you have a pre-existing condition and don’t have continuous health care coverage, the $8 billion fund helps lower premium costs. To me, protecting people with pre-existing conditions isn’t just good policy: it’s a personal mission. That’s why I’m a co-sponsor of this amendment and have fought to make sure everyone with pre-existing conditions has access to affordable, quality health care coverage.

The AHCA is the product of collaboration and feedback from people of all walks of life. We’ve had multiple conversations — tough conversations — and we’re going to vote on a bill that we’re confident will improve lives.

It’s an honor to serve, and please reach out to me or my staff if ever we can be of assistance.