Senate health plan could allow discrimination based on preexisting conditions

The BRCA will leave millions without insurance or care.
The BRCA will leave millions without insurance or care.

WASHINGTON- Considering that both the House’s American Health Care Act and the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act contain a variety of measures which will hurt the American people, it can be difficult to sort through every detail of both bills. Both bills will include drastic cuts to Medicaid; both will lower premiums at the expense of patients who will lose insurance; and both will leave more Americans to die due to lack of coverage.

For more details, Michelle Ye Hee Lee’s work at The Washington Post can help:

This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delayed the vote on the Senate health-care plan until after the Fourth of July holiday to give lawmakers a chance to study the bill and work out a new compromise to overhaul the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

As with the House version that passed in May, Democrats have criticized the impact that the Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), would have on people with preexisting medical conditions. They argue that the BCRA would no longer protect Americans with preexisting conditions, despite the bill’s explicit ban on states waiving coverage based on preexisting conditions. Yet a Republican opponent of the bill criticized it for not repealing the protection enough. What is going on? [. . .]

Before the ACA, insurance companies could consider a person’s health status when they decide whether and how much to charge premiums. If a person had a preexisting medical condition that would cost a lot of money, the insurance company could increase the cost of their premiums or even deny coverage.

That is not allowed under the ACA, which requires everyone to purchase insurance. It also requires insurance carriers to offer people in the individual and small group markets “essential health benefits,” such as maternity care, mental health services, prescription drugs and emergency services. The goal was to standardize benefits, offer comprehensive coverage and balance out the risk pool.

An amendment in the House version created waivers that states could seek from the health law. One possible waiver would allow states to replace a federal essential benefits package with a more narrowly tailored package of benefits, limited to the individual and small-group markets.

These changes would affect a specific group of people who meet the following criteria: lives in a state that seeks this waiver; has a lapse in health coverage for longer than 63 days; has a preexisting condition; and purchases insurance on the individual market.

Read more at The Washington Post.

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