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Legislation would end insurance discrimination against those who live with pre-existing or chronic illness

by Senator Jay Rockefeller | 4/6/2009 12:39:03 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. —During a conference call today with reporters, Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Member of the House Education and Labor Committee, announced the introduction of the Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act that would end insurance discrimination against those who live with pre-existing or chronic illness. “We have 133 million Americans living with chronic illness – insurance companies should no longer be allowed to reap profits by denying care to sick Americans,” said Senator Rockefeller. “We as a nation can no longer stand by and continue to allow this practice to occur. These medical services are not optional, and most times, they are not affordable without insurance. Our system is broken—which is why we must eliminate the ability of insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions in every single market. The time for serious action is now.” “It is wrong and impractical to commit ourselves to health care reform without addressing the faulty and ill-advised pre-existing condition exclusion,” stated Congressman Courtney. “This discriminatory practice prevents millions of hardworking Americans from changing or finding new jobs and in this economy that is just plain wrong. Senator Rockefeller and I agree that it is time for the most advanced nation in the world to have a world-class health care system that is fair and affordable.” Background The Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act will eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions in all insurance markets, a major step forward for the 133 million Americans living with at least one chronic condition. Eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions is a priority of the Obama Administration and Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Courtney plan to work closely with President Obama to enact this vital legislation. Insurance market reform must be a central part of comprehensive health reform. Both Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Courtney believe that all individuals should have access to comprehensive, meaningful, and affordable health insurance coverage—and this legislation is a critical component of achieving that goal. Summary of the legislation ****The Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act is a bill to protect consumers excluded from receiving health insurance coverage due to a “pre-existing condition.” ****The Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a report to Congress on the extent of adverse selection (i.e. which happens when less healthy people disproportionately enroll in a risk pool) that occurs because insurers can no longer exclude patients with pre-existing conditions. This report must include data from private insurers on the characteristics of their insured population. This new reporting requirement would provide transparency on the true mix of patients and patient claims experience among private insurers; and ****Require the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress addressing the impact of this legislation on reducing the number of uninsured and underinsured, as well as its effect on the affordability of health insurance coverage. This is meant to highlight both the positive impact this new policy will have on making coverage more accessible for individuals with chronic conditions, but also recognize that without further regulatory changes, coverage may not be affordable for these individuals. ****The Pre-existing Condition Patient Protection Act of 2009 has been endorsed by twenty-two organizations, including: American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association; American Heart Association/American Stroke Association; Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc.; Association of Community Cancer Centers; Breast Cancer Network of Strength; Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy; Congenital Heart; Information Network; Dermatology Nurses’ Association; First Focus; International Myeloma Foundation; Lung Cancer Alliance; Lupus Foundation of America; Mended Little Hearts; National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; National Patient Advocate Foundation; Oncology Nursing Society; Ovarian Cancer National Alliance; Pediatric Stroke Network, Inc.; Sarcoma Foundation of America; Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association; The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; and The Wellness Community.

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