House Democrats Unveil Legislation to Strengthen Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions and Lower Health Care Costs
House Democratic leaders today unveiled a sweeping bill that would protect people living with pre-existing conditions, lower health care costs for consumers, and reverse the Trump Administration’s harmful actions to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act of 2019 was introduced today by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), and Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), the three Chairmen whose committees have jurisdiction over health care.
The legislation strengthens protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reverses the Trump Administration’s harmful actions to sabotage the ACA. The bill also reverses the Trump Administration’s efforts to give states waivers to undermine pre-existing condition protections and stops the expansion of junk insurance plans that discriminate against consumers. The legislation would also restore critical outreach and enrollment funding that has been gutted by the Trump Administration and provide funding for navigators to assist consumers in signing up for health care.
The bill would make health care more affordable by lowering health insurance premiums with strengthened and expanded affordability assistance. Specifically, the bill expands eligibility for premium tax credits beyond 400 percent of the federal poverty line and increases the size of tax credits for all income brackets. The legislation also creates a national reinsurance program to help cover the costs of consumers with expensive medical conditions, which lowers premiums for everyone, and offers funding to states to establish their own State-Based Marketplaces, which oftentimes have lower premiums.
“While the Trump Administration broadens its monstrous ambitions from destroying protections for pre-existing conditions to tearing down every last benefit and protection the Affordable Care Act provides, Democrats are putting forward new legislation to lower health insurance premiums and strengthen protections for America’s families,” said Speaker Pelosi. “Today, with the Protecting Pre-existing Conditions & Making Health Care More Affordable Act, we are taking another bold step to deliver more affordable health care. Led by our outstanding freshmen, House Democrats are working every day to honor our For The People promise to the American people: lower health care costs and prescription drug prices for families across America.”
“This is important legislation to protect those with pre-existing conditions and make health care more affordable, and I thank Chairmen Pallone, Neal, and Scott for their hard work on it,” said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer. “Americans overwhelmingly elected representatives last November who promised to work to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and oppose efforts to dismantle it and its protections. That’s what the Democratic House is moving forward to do with this bill — in stark contrast to the continued GOP attacks to dismantle the law and take away the coverage and protections it provides.”
“Democrats are listening when the American people say that health care is their number one concern,” Majority Whip Clyburn said. “Today we are taking action to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, while Republicans and this Administration have no plan to provide quality, affordable health care for the American people. This comprehensive legislation will improve our health care delivery system by lowering costs and protecting those with pre-existing conditions.”
“This comprehensive proposal follows through on our commitment to make health care more affordable and to defend critical protections for the more than 133 million Americans living with pre-existing conditions,” Chairman Pallone said. “It’s time for Congress to take action to lower the soaring costs of health care, rein in the Trump Administration’s efforts to sabotage the ACA and ensure that insurance companies cannot discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.”
“With the introduction of this legislation, Democrats are delivering on our promises to lower health care costs for working Americans, undo Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, and improve access to comprehensive health care,” said Chairman Neal. “The ACA’s impact is undeniable – an end to discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, the removal of barriers to preventative services, and 20 million more Americans with insurance. Today’s bill builds on this progress, and helps even more Americans enroll in quality, affordable coverage.”
“The American people are demanding that we support access to affordable health care -- not just with our words but with our actions. That’s what House Democrats are doing today. This legislation will strengthen protections for patients with pre-existing conditions,” said Chairman Scott, Committee on Education and Labor. “The bill also protects consumers from the administration’s harmful proposals to erode essential health benefits that ensure that they have access to quality health care, including maternity care and substance use disorder treatment. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure people with pre-existing conditions can access the care they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”
“Quality, affordable health care is the right of every child, woman, and man in our country, not a privilege for those fortunate enough to have it. To make this principle a reality, we need to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure every American can get health coverage, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and lower the rising cost of health care,” Rep. Susan Wild said. “I’m proud that this effort includes my bill— the Family Health Care Affordability Act– a bill to fix the ACA’s “family glitch” – which has prevented some workers from being able to expand their employer-provided insurance to their families. My bill is a small fix to a big problem for many working families. I’m proud to work to improve the lives of millions of Americans by building on the promise of the Affordable Care Act and strengthening our health care system.”
“In my conversations with hardworking families, the number one issue they want to tackle is health care - because they are experiencing the heart of the problem: if health care isn’t affordable, it isn’t accessible,” Rep. Angie Craig said. “That’s why I am proud to work with my colleagues to lower the cost of health insurance premiums through the State Health Care Premium Reduction Act, protect people with pre-existing conditions from unfair treatment and work to lower the cost of health care.”
“In every town hall I’ve had in New Jersey, there’s one issue that dominates the conversation: making health care more affordable for working families,” Rep. Andy Kim said. “Today’s announcement shows that this Congress is laser-focused on that goal. It’s why my first bill is a bipartisan effort to expand health care options and lower costs. I’m proud to stand alongside my colleagues to support efforts to improve health care and strengthen pre-existing condition protections.”
“As a nurse and as someone living with a pre-existing condition, I believe access to health care is a right,” Rep. Lauren Underwood said. “Quality, affordable care is out-of-reach for too many American families who can’t keep up with skyrocketing costs. I came to Congress to champion solutions, so today I’m proud to introduce legislation that will make current coverage more affordable by limiting premium costs and bring affordable insurance within reach of millions more Americans.”
A one-page summary is available HERE.
A section-by-section is available HERE.
Text of the bill is available HERE.