Opinion | Healthcare

Trump, GOP continue to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

In the next few weeks, the House of Representatives will start voting on health-care legislation, and we will soon see if the Republican party has learned any lessons from their defeat in the 2018 midterms. So far, the answer is a resounding no.

Last November, the American people examined the Republican record on health care, and delivered their verdict by electing a Democratic majority to the U.S. House of Representatives, with the biggest gains since Watergate.

Health care was the number one issue driving voters to the polls, and those voters overwhelmingly supported Democrats over Republicans. It turns out, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agrees. He told his donors the Republican health repeal bill was "the defining issue and the most important issue in the race" and he admitted health care cost them the majority.

Republicans may continue to pretend they care about America's health care, and repeat their lies from the election cycle, but people won't be fooled. President Trump and Republicans remain committed to dismantling our health care through any means possible. No matter that they say, Republicans are committed to returning to a system where insurance and drug companies call all the shots. We need to judge their actions, not their words.

Republicans are still pushing a lawsuit to repeal the entire ACA. In December, a hand-picked, right wing federal district court judge actually ruled in their favor and said the entire law should be overturned, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. President Trump recently cheered on the lawsuit, telling "The New York Times" enthusiastically that the ACA would be "terminated" as a result.

The Trump administration and Republicans continue to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions by pushing short-term junk plans that allow insurance companies to skirt key consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.

This is a backdoor way for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and go back to the days when they could deny, drop, or charge more for coverage. The Trump administration even wants to allow federal subsidies to be used for these junk plans.

And, Republicans continue their attacks on Medicaid. Republican officials in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho are trying to find ways to overturn the will of their voters who voted to approve Medicaid expansion in ballot measures last year. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is pushing states to put onerous requirements on Medicaid, and said it is open to "block grants" for the program, which is a fancy way of allowing states to slash the program and kick people off the rolls.

These actions have real consequences for real people. Thanks to Republican sabotage efforts, the uninsured rate increased to its highest level since 2014, when the ACA marketplaces first began.

It is time to once again stop the GOP war on health care and move America forward. So, while the country has a long overdue conversation about the best path to universal coverage, the House is acting now to end the Republican attacks on pre-existing conditions, stop sabotage and lower the costs of health care, starting with prescription drugs and surprise bills. America will see if the Republican Party has learned its lesson. I doubt they have.

Leslie Dach is the founder and chair of Protect Our Care and served as senior counselor to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration.

Outbrain