HHS Report: Up to 129 Million Adults Under 65 Have Some Type of Pre-Existing Condition, Could be at Risk of Losing Health Insurance or Denied Coverage Altogether if Repeal is Enacted
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the U.S. House of Representatives plans a vote to repeal the new health reform law, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius held a news conference call to discuss the potential impact of a repeal of healthcare reform.
“Today, in its first major legislative act of the new Congress, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will take a vote to repeal our nation’s health reform law. Given the numerous ways this bill helps Main Street Americans whose coverage may be here today and gone tomorrow—not members of Congress who have had taxpayer-sponsored health care for years—a vote to repeal the bill is remarkably simplistic,” Brown said. “With one fell swoop, House Republicans would increase health care costs for seniors, students, Americans with pre-existing conditions—and the list goes on.
“There has been a lot of talk about ‘repealing and replacing’ health reform, but we should all be clear: there’s no ‘replace’ here,” Brown continued. “The only thing Republicans have proposed is ‘repeal’ – a return to the status quo when insurance companies were in charge and Ohioans were left to fend for themselves.”
Senator Brown also released a county-by-county report showing that more than 13 percent of Ohioans—approximately 1.3 million residents—had no health insurance coverage as of 2008. Adams County topped the list, with more than 36 percent of residents lacking coverage.
On Tuesday, HHS released a report showing that up to 129 million Americans under the age of 65 have some sort of pre-existing condition that could leave them at risk of losing health insurance or being denied coverage altogether if health reform is repealed.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes a critical new set of patient protections that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to Americans when they need it most. Starting in 2014, insurers can no longer carve out needed benefits, charge higher premiums because of gender, set lifetime or annual limits on benefits, or deny coverage or charge higher premiums due to a person’s pre-existing condition. The health care reform law also reduces brand-name prescription drug costs for seniors by closing the insurance gap in Medicare drug coverage (also known as the “donut hole”), provides tax credits to small businesses to help them afford coverage for their employees, and allows young people to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26.
Earlier this month, Brown revealed that the average Ohio senior affected by the donut hole could save an estimated $526 in 2011 and $9,007 over the next decade on prescription drug costs under the completed Medicare fix that began to go into effect on January 1, 2011. Beginning on that day, the new law provides Medicare beneficiaries with a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and biologics if they enter the “donut hole.” Discounts will increase every year until 2020, when the “donut hole” will be completely filled and beneficiaries will only be responsible for the standard 25 percent co-insurance payment rather than the full 100 percent that they were paying prior to 2011.