Prominent Patient Groups Stress Importance of Pre-Existing Condition Protections in Any Health Care Replacement Plan
"Continuous Coverage" requirements would disadvantage patients with serious illness
(January 5, 2017) - Washington, D.C.
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Several of the nation's leading patient organizations sent a letter to Congress today stressing the importance of protecting guaranteed access to comprehensive and affordable insurance coverage for patients with pre-existing health conditions. The letter was signed by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
In the letter, the organizations, which represent millions of patients across the country, said they are encouraged by the recognition that pre-existing condition protections for patients should be retained. However, the groups warn that additional patient protections enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act including, guaranteed issue, premium rating restrictions, banning annual and lifetime benefit caps, and prohibiting coverage rescissions, work in concert to meaningfully improve access to coverage for patients with serious illness.
"For instance, protecting an individual from pre-existing condition exclusions, while allowing plans to impose caps or rescind coverage, weakens the goals of guaranteed affordable coverage or universal access to coverage for people with serious illness," the letter states. "We should not return to an insurance market that often excluded those who needed coverage the most."
While these protections in law for people with pre-existing conditions are critical, they alone are not sufficient. The letter also states that any transition to a new health system must focus on minimizing market instability.
The groups expressed concerns about replacement proposals that would impose new continuous coverage requirements or waiting periods on individuals seeking to buy health insurance.
"Most people lose coverage because they cannot afford it, a problem faced more frequently by those who cannot work due to illness…continuous coverage requirements rely on a robust and healthy individual insurance market, which may not exist in many states without congressional intervention," the letter states.
The organizations are ready and committed to working with Congress to ensure individuals with pre-existing conditions and high-cost medical needs have access to affordable and comprehensive coverage.
"These current patient protections have provided a degree of security and certainty for Americans with serious illness that they now expect."
It is estimated more than half of non-elderly Americans have conditions that would have precluded them from health insurance coverage under the pre-existing condition and medical underwriting rules that existed in most states before passage of the Affordable Care Act. Together, on behalf of the millions of patients these five organizations represent, they seek to ensure access to a robust health insurance market that provides affordable and comprehensive coverage options.
To read the full letter, please visit: http://bit.ly/2hVQzDG
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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