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New GOP repeal effort will have severe impact Californians

A new report cautions that the Trump Administration and Congressional Republican leadership’s efforts to repeal or significantly alter the remainder of the Affordable Care Act will result in millions of Californians losing federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases.

The report’s findings — generated by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform minority Democratic staff – was released Thursday, Oct. 18 by Rep. Ted Lieu, (D- CA 33) and shows the negative consequences to Californians with pre-existing health conditions. As many as 1,321,000 people in the state who purchase insurance through the individual market have pre-existing health conditions and of those, 576,000 individuals have pre-existing health conditions severe enough that insurers may deny them coverage altogether.

“My district has the most people at risk of losing health coverage or facing premium increases because of the Trump Administration’s perplexing decision not to defend the individual mandate,” Lieu said in a statement. “Why won’t this Administration stand up for families and the millions of Americans who benefit from affordable, comprehensive healthcare? Protecting the very popular clause in the Affordable Care Act that protects Americans from insurance discrimination seems like a no-brainer. But, for Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration, their unending efforts to roll back health protections are as heartless as they are senseless.”

Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Republicans could try again to repeal Obamacare if they win enough seats in the midterm elections next month. McConnell called a failed 2017 push to repeal the healthcare law a “disappointment.”

“If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks,” McConnell told Reuters  “We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”

The Senate Majority leader also blamed social programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, for the fast-rising national debt. “Entitlements are the long-term drivers of the debt,” McConnell told Reuters.
His remarks brought a sharp reaction from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats, who have sought to portray the Republican healthcare effort as an attack on the middle class.

“If Republicans retain the Senate, they will do everything they can to take away families’ health care and raise their costs,” Schumer said in a statement. “Americans should take Senator McConnell at his word.”
A group of Republican attorneys general, led by Texas’ Ken Paxton, and opposed by a group of Democratic attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra, filed a lawsuit aimed at striking down the federal health law. The Trump Administration has announced it will not defend in federal court the ACA’s requirement that individuals maintain insurance coverage, including the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions.

This report estimates that as many as 2,050,000 people in the individual market in California may lose federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases as a result of their pre-existing health conditions, gender, or age.

Some of the other findings in the report:

Women: As many as 1,212,000 women in the state who purchase coverage through the individual market may lose federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases because of their gender as a result of the Administration’s actions.

Older Adults: If current statutory protections are eliminated, older Americans could be charged more than ten times the amount younger adults pay for their insurance premiums. As many as 856,000 individuals between 50 and 64 years old in the state who purchase health insurance through the individual market may lose federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases as a result of the Administration’s actions.

Lieu warns that If the administration’s efforts to eliminate the individual mandate are successful, thousands of Californians will be at risk for losing comprehensive coverage. Without state intervention, California’s healthcare industry could revert back to the era of legalized insurance company discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

Reporting by Reuters and the staff of the Los Angeles Blade