HHS pressed on insurance discrimination claims

Patient advocacy groups say health insurers are violating ObamaCare by discriminating against those with chronic diseases, and the groups are forcing the administration to respond.

A Health and Human Services spokesperson cited by The Associated Press says a response is nearly prepped for advocacy organizations fighting AIDS, leukemia, epilepsy and other diseases.

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Groups such as the National Health Law Program and the AIDS Institute have filed complaints with the administration claiming insurers are in violation of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions that prevent them from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and chronic diseases.

They argue certain drugs are put on higher tiers, requiring patients with chronic diseases to pay bigger out-of-pocket costs. In some cases, they say, the co-pay for such drugs can be 30 percent or higher.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the largest health insurance lobby group, countered the claim by arguing that patients have the option to select a range of health plans that may suit their budgets better.

The drug industry, led by the lobby group the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), has sided with patient advocacy groups to attack insurers over their drug co-pay practices.

However, insurers say the real threat to rising healthcare costs is the price of new specialty drugs such as Gilead’s $1,000-per-pill Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.

AHIP has warned if price of specialty drugs aren’t reduced they threaten to bankrupt families and sky-rocket government healthcare costs.