By Miriam Raftery
June 9, 2018 (Washington D.C.) – The Trump administration is asking a court to strike down a provision in the Affordable Care Act which requires insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Before the mandate was enacted, many Americans were being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions ranging from asthma to back pain to cancer. In now seeking to take away protections from sick people, Trump is reneging on promises he made repeatedly during his campaign to keep protections for people with preexisting conditions, even as he sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Trump’s Justice Department is making arguments based on Congress eliminating penalties for not having insurance (after a court found in 2012 the ACA’s mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance to be unconstitutional). Now, the Trump administration is arguing in a Texas court, since the mandate under the ACA is effectively gone, the court should also throw out as unconstitutional the provisions that require insurers to not deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and not charge them more that healthy people.
If a court rules for the Trump administration, millions of Americans could once again be unable to buy health insurance, since an estimated 3 in 10 Americans have at least one pre-existing condition that could be used to deny them policies.
Although many Americans opposed the ACA mandate to buy insurance, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last year found that 70% of Americans polled support continuing to block insurers from charging people with pre-existing coverage more, or denying coverage altogether. That includes 59% of Republican voters.
On the campaign trail in 2016, then candidate Trump said during the presidential debate, “I want to keep preexisting conditions” coverage adding, “I think we need it…and I think we have to have it.” (View videos of his promises here.)
A week before the election Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence affirmed that he and Trump would “protect Americans with preexisting conditions.”
In a speech to Congress after his election, in February 2017 Trump again stated that while he supported repealing Obamacare, “We should ensure that Americans with preexisting conditions have access to coverage,” a promise he repeated in multiple news interviews including on the CBS 60 Minutes program.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) also promised that a Republican backed bill proposed to replace The ACA would protect “patients with preexisting conditions.”
But now the President’s administration has broken those pledges and thrown ailing Americans with pre-existing conditions to the wolves.
Think it can’t happen to you?
Before the ACA, this reporter was denied health insurance due to relatively minor pre-existing conditions include a thyroid condition that had been stable for decades. Eventually another company offered coverage—at triple the rate paid previously.
While the ACA had flaws, notably not being affordable enough for many middle-income households, revoking protections for those with preexisting conditions will amount to a death sentence for many people.
If you can’t buy health insurance, who among us could afford to self-fund six-figure life-saving treatments such as open-heart surgery or chemotherapy for cancer? Or surgeries to make life bearable as we age, such as hip or knee replacements?
If we can’t trust the president to stand by his word to protect the most vulnerable Americans in their time of need, is there any reason to believe any other promises he has made?