May 4, 2017
WASHINGTON – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued the following statement in response to today’s U.S. House action on repealing the Affordable Care Act:
The vote by congressional House Republicans to approve a revised version of the American Health Care Act clearly shows how they favor politics over meaningful health care for all Americans.
The bill takes a previously shoddy proposal and makes it worse. Most troubling is its removal of protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reliance on seriously underfunded high-risk pools. Washington’s own experience with a high-risk pool shows that 80 percent of those who really need such coverage cannot afford the high premiums.
It's why patient groups such as the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons and many more oppose the Republican bill.
The revised legislation also removes major consumer protections by allowing states to opt out of requirements to provide essential health benefits. This includes coverage for prescription drugs and mental health, for example.
States could also eliminate a rule that requires insurance companies to accept all enrollees, regardless of their health condition. In exchange for charging sicker people much higher premiums, states would be required to set up special high-risk pools for individuals with costly illnesses, such as cancer.
Republicans also rushed through their revised legislation without a thorough examination of the costs and effects on consumers by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. A review of the original legislation in March projected that up to 24 million Americans would lose coverage. That includes 700,000 people in Washington state.
Even with passage of this dangerously flawed legislation, there is hope that the U.S. Senate will reject it. Thoughtful and meaningful improvements to the Affordable Care Act can be achieved by using sound insurance principles that focus on helping consumers, not playing politics. These include tackling rising out-of-pocket costs for medical services and the surging prices of prescription drugs.
House Republicans passed their bill so that they could declare a “win.” The reality is that this legislation, if signed into law as is, would strip coverage and protections from millions of Americans. It would increase costs, put lives at risk and return us to the dark days before the Affordable Care Act.