Under the American Health Care Act, states can apply for waivers to allow insurance companies to consider a person's health status when determining premiums. (May 4, 2017) (Sign up for our free video newsletter here http://bit.ly/2n6VKPR)
As they scramble to get votes to advance legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act, President Trump and House Republican leaders insist their bill would protect Americans who have preexisting medical conditions.
But most healthcare experts and patient advocates dispute this, noting that the House GOP plan would allow states to scrap many protections put in place by Obamacare, as the law is often called.
The American Health Care Act, as the House Republican healthcare bill is called, does not eliminate the guaranteed issue provision of Obamacare.
But a proposed amendment to the bill by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) would make some significant changes to the insurance protections enacted in Obamacare.
Importantly, the amendment would allow states to obtain a waiver from the federal government to eliminate the community rating requirement in the current law. That would allow insurance companies to once again charge consumers with preexisting medical conditions more for coverage.
In other words, a patient with diabetes, heart disease or cancer might still be “guaranteed” coverage, but only if he or she agreed to pay five or 10 times as much for a health plan.
But didn’t Trump and other Republicans say the bill would enhance protections for patients with preexisting conditions?
Yes. Supporters of the amendment say that sick Americans would still be protected in these states because the amendment, among other things, requires states to enact other protections, such as offering a special insurance plan for sick customers, known as a high-risk pool.
The House bill offers states billions of dollars to operate these high-risk pools.
“We challenge lawmakers to remember their commitment to their constituents and the American people to protect lifesaving healthcare for millions of Americans, including those who struggle every day with chronic and other major health conditions,” the groups warned.