WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect people with preexisting conditions from the Trump Administration’s unrelenting attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Senator Jack Reed is joining with colleagues to force a floor vote this week to overturn a Trump Administration rule that allows states to ignore parts of the ACA.  The Trump Administration wants to allow insurance companies to sell junk plans that that exclude patients with preexisting conditions and deny coverage for essential health benefits such as trips to the emergency room, prescription drugs, or maternity care.  This cynical approach would decimate legitimate insurance markets, increase premiums for most consumers, and leave people high and dry if and when they ever do get sick or need medical care.

Reed and Senate Democrats will use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to force a vote on the Senate floor this week, as early as Wednesday, on a resolution to roll back the Trump administration’s rule on 1332 waivers, which the Trump Administration is using to sabotage Americans’ health care and undermine the critical pre-existing condition protections that more than 130 million Americans rely on. The Trump administration’s rule, if left in place, allows states to greenlight junk insurance plans that don’t fully protect people with pre-existing conditions, don’t cover essential health benefits like prescription drugs and maternity care, and raise out-of-pocket costs on many American families. The rule also lets states promote junk plans that can charge people more if they have a pre-existing condition or refuse to offer coverage for specific benefits. These plans would destabilize our insurance markets and could limit insurance access and raise costs for millions of Americans.

“It’s called junk insurance for a reason: because it doesn’t cover anything and it allows insurance companies to once again discriminate against women and people with preexisting conditions,” said Senator Reed.  “The Affordable Care Act has given individuals and families more choice, more affordable options, and more control over their health care. And with these new options for health coverage, the uninsured rate in Rhode Island has reached historic lows, hovering around four percent.  We can’t let the Trump Administration sabotage people’s health care by allowing insurers to start offering more plans with fewer benefits and rejecting people with pre-existing medical conditions.”

“This week, the Senate will hold one of the most significant votes of the year: we will finally see where Republicans stand on the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the health care of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” stated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

“It is preposterous that the Trump administration claims to care about preserving pre-existing condition protections for millions of Americans while simultaneously peddling shoddy, substandard junk plans that undermine and weaken those very protections,” he added.

Taking to the Senate floor today, Reed noted:

“If President Trump’s strategy succeeds, many Americans will suffer.

Pre-existing conditions protections would go away, and over 50 million Americans with pre-existing medical conditions would go back to being priced out of coverage.  The Medicaid expansion that helps states cover more than 12 million Americans would also be gone.

Young adults would be kicked off their parents’ insurance.  Women could be charged more, as would older Americans.  People would lose access to mental and behavioral health care and prescription drug costs for seniors would go up.

In Rhode Island, it is estimated that approximately 100,000 people could lose coverage if Trump’s lawyers convince the courts to tear down the ACA.  The state would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for health care. 

All to satisfy President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ desire for a political win at the expense of the American people. 

We cannot afford to go back to the days when insurance companies were in control. 

We cannot wait until the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans come up with a plan.  The ACA was signed into law almost ten years ago and still its opponents have no alternative.  Americans with pre-existing conditions, those who are fighting illnesses, parents with children with complex medical needs, young people who need coverage while they explore new careers opportunities – these people, our constituents, our neighbors, our families, do not have the time to wait for Republicans to come up with a solution for a problem they themselves are creating. 

We should instead be spending our time working on solutions to today’s problems.  There are pressing issues the Congress should be spending time addressing to improve heath in this country. 

Prescription drug costs continue to skyrocket.  In fact, addressing prescription drug costs alone would go a long way towards bringing down health care costs overall.  Yet, if the ACA goes away, this will be for naught.  It won’t matter if the drug companies are required to negotiate fair prices for drugs and are prevented from gauging customers.  Without affordable health insurance, consumers will continue to be priced out of lifesaving drugs and treatments.  Further, without the ACA, requirements that plans must cover prescription drugs would go away.  Indeed, before the ACA, many plans did not cover needed prescription drugs, leaving patients to pay entirely out of pocket for lifesaving treatments and interventions that prevent more expensive conditions down the road.” 

The Reed-backed CRA resolution requires a simple majority to pass, meaning Democrats would need four Senate Republicans to join with them in order to pass the measure.