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Taking action to stop the sabotage and expand access to health care for Americans

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Over the past two years, we have seen consistent and ongoing threats from the Trump administration to the health care and guaranteed protections that millions of American families depend on. President Trump has tried to pass repeal plans that would take people’s health care away and allow insurance companies to charge more for pre-existing conditions. When that effort failed, instead of working in a bipartisan way to lower health care costs, President Trump turned to sabotaging our health system. The Trump administration has created instability in the health care market and made it harder for people to sign up for coverage, and as a result there are more Americans uninsured today than when President Trump took office.

The Trump administration has slashed funding for the enrollment Navigator program by more than 80 percent, making it harder for people to find a health insurance plan that fits their needs, at a price they can afford. 

{mosads}President Trump also expanded junk insurance plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and don’t have to cover essential services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits and maternity care.

He has even gone to court to support a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act completely, including protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. If they succeed, insurance companies will again be able to deny coverage or charge higher premiums for more than 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition.

As I have said many times before, the people of Wisconsin want both parties in Congress to work together to make things better by making health care more affordable. I’ve heard from several Wisconsinites who want to know why the President is working to repeal their care, raise costs and take away their protections by expanding these junk plans.

I heard from Keri in Baraboo. Keri is a three-time cancer survivor – two breast cancer diagnoses and one melanoma – who experienced her first diagnosis at age 29. Now at age 61, Keri is able to get the health care she needs without being punished financially for having a pre-existing condition. Keri is worried that if the ACA is repealed, she could lose her health coverage, or could be charged more.

I also heard from Abigail in Arbor Vitae. Abigail was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013. When she was told she couldn’t afford the medication, neurological care, and therapy she needed to live pain-free, she said she felt hopeless. Times are tough for Abigail, who has to decide each month between eating dinner and filling all of her prescriptions. She told me she lives in fear each time the news flickers on with more threats to those like her with pre-existing conditions. No one should have to choose between paying rent or buying groceries, and getting the health care they need.

There are 2 million Wisconsinites with a pre-existing health condition, myself included. When I was nine years old, I got sick. Really sick. I was in the hospital for months. I recovered, but as a child I was also branded with the words, ‘pre-existing condition’ and denied coverage. That personal experience has driven my fight to make sure every American has affordable, quality health care coverage. Today, because of the Affordable Care Act, those with a pre-existing health condition cannot be discriminated against, denied health care coverage or charged more.

That’s why I’m going to keep fighting to protect the guaranteed health care protections that millions of Americans depend on. Last week, I introduced the ENROLL Act with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) to restore funding for the Navigator program and help ensure that Americans have access to the affordable health care coverage they need. Navigators and in-person enrollment assisters are so important to helping American families manage the health insurance enrollment process, find out what federal subsidies or programs, including Medicaid and CHIP, they are eligible for and what health care plan will best meet their family’s unique needs.

In May, I introduced the No Junk Plans Act with my colleague Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) to overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of junk insurance plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and don’t have to cover essential services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits and maternity care. The entire Senate Democratic caucus supports this legislation. The nation’s top health care organizations, representing tens of thousands of the nation’s physicians, patients, medical students and other health experts, support this legislation. Anyone who says they support health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions should support my legislation.

These are solutions that will expand access to care and lower costs for millions of Americans. Congress should be working together to protect the health care that millions of American depend on, and make sure families can get the care they need at a price they can afford. Over the past two years, the American people have consistently sent a clear message to Congress: protect our care. So let’s move past the party politics and work together to make our health care system better, not worse.

Baldwin is the junior senator from Wisconsin and a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Tags Bob Casey Donald Trump doug jones Future of Healthcare Summit

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