Latest Attempts to Repeal the Affordable Care Act Could Strip Millions of Pennsylvanians from Important Consumer Protections
Antoinette Kraus, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network issued the following statement today about new Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act through the MacArthur amendment:
“Protections banning pre-existing conditions for health insurance are among the most popular in the Affordable Care Act. For decades, more than half of Pennsylvanians struggled to find coverage when they had asthma, a heart condition, or cancer. Today we understand the Congressional leadership is willing to sink to a new low by removing the most important protection for consumers, playing politics with people’s health and financial stability. This plan would continue to result in millions of Americans losing coverage.
We cannot allow our financial stability and health to be the victim of vicious partisan politics. The majority of Americans want Congress to keep and improve the Affordable Care Act and this is a desperate attempt to force Americans to except lower quality coverage at higher costs.”
Impact on Pennsylvania:
Recent data suggests that Pennsylvania consumers would be hit particularly hard were pre-existing condition protections eliminated. Women with breast cancer would pay an additional $32,740, while people with diabetes would pay an additional $6,390, and people with asthma would pay an additional $4,950. For Pennsylvanian’s these surcharges are roughly sixteen percent higher than the national average. This means the wallets of 5.3 million non-elderly Pennsylvanians would be hit hard. Under this new plan, the average cost of insurance in Pennsylvania would increase by $3,805, and these surcharges for pre-existing conditions would simply drain more money from hardworking Pennsylvanians.
For older Pennsylvanians, the story is worse. The proposed American Health Care Act allows states to charge older individuals at least five times more for coverage, and this new amendment includes language that allows states to go above that five times more starting point. In addition to being hit with the surcharges for pre-existing conditions, a 60-year old making $22,000 a year would see their net premiums rise by $9,271 under this proposed legislation. No one, especially older individuals on fixed incomes can afford these astronomical increases.
The last harmful change proposed in the new amendment allows states to waive the essential health benefits – the 10 required kinds of care that all plans must offer. This includes important coverage like pharmacy benefits, prenatal and maternal care, and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. Care related to the essential health benefits is also restricted from having a lifetime or annual limit. Lifting the essential health benefits returns 4.9 million Pennsylvanians – most of whom are covered by employer sponsored coverage – to a time where they are one illness away from medical bankruptcy.