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Patient groups say GOP bill on pre-existing conditions is insufficient
More than 25 patient groups on Tuesday released a statement saying a recent GOP bill aimed at protecting people with pre-existing conditions is insufficient.
The legislation, introduced by 10 GOP senators last month, aims to clarify that Republicans want to maintain ObamaCare's protections for people with pre-existing conditions in case a GOP-backed lawsuit against the 2010 health law succeeds.
The measure would enshrine into law the Affordable Care Act's protections against charging more money or denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
However, the groups note that the measure does not include a ban on insurers simply excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions, meaning insurers could offer plans that do not cover the care that patients need most while still not denying coverage outright.
The legislation also would allow insurers to charge higher premiums based on factors like age, the groups note.
"We appreciate that this legislation would prohibit the denial of coverage and rating based on health status," the groups said in a joint statement. "However, it would not ban pre-existing condition exclusions and would remove rating restrictions based on age, gender, tobacco use, or occupation. This means that many individuals could still face higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs and, even if enrollees paid the increased premiums for many months, they could still be denied benefits because of a pre-existing condition."
The groups issuing the statement include the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and American Diabetes Association.
The GOP senators, led by Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.), introduced the bill last month in an effort to counter Democratic attacks in the midterm campaign around the anti-ObamaCare lawsuit, which threatens to invalidate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Wednesday in federal court in Texas.