House Democrats fight to protect people’s health and access to care
HARRISBURG, Sep. 25 – This week, PA House Democrats reacted to the relentless attack on the Affordable Care Act by President Trump and Republicans in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. by publicly calling for a vote on four bills to make sure people don’t lose their access to health care and insurance – coverage that’s more vital than ever in the era of COVID-19.
“While Republicans are focused on nothing more than trying to force working people back into dangerous situations by undoing the virus mitigation efforts that have saved thousands of lives, we are focused on people’s safety, jobs and health,” House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, said. “President Trump has had the Affordable Care Act in his sights since Day One, and now he and congressional Republicans are looking to tilt the Supreme Court right before a decision that could end the ACA. Nothing matters more than making sure people can afford to see a doctor when they get sick, and it’s time for the majority party here in Pennsylvania to join us and put those people first.”
“Now, more than ever, people need to know they can continue to see their doctor and get the care they need without having to worry about insurmountable medical bills,” House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said. “Unfortunately, we can be called back to Harrisburg at the drop of a hat to play political games, but not to deal with this legislation that hasn’t even been brought up for a vote. Pennsylvanians deserve better.”
“No one should have to go uninsured or underinsured at any time, but especially during a global pandemic,” House Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery, said. “We should be advancing strategies to make health care in Pennsylvania more affordable and accessible, but instead, we have to play defense for Pennsylvanians just to maintain these basic protections they have today. With the commonsense provisions of the Affordable Care Act coming under constant attack by Republicans in Washington, it is imperative that the commonwealth act now to ensure these protections are secured for Pennsylvania’s families.”
House Democrats are using a discharge resolution to force a vote on four bills that have been bottled up in committee by Republicans for more than a year. The bills include:
PROTECTING PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS (HB471)
Guarantees people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, breast cancer, high blood pressure, pregnancy -- or surviving COVID-19 -- cannot be kicked off their health insurance or denied insurance. Without insurance, people skip vital checkups, go into debt or even bankruptcy to pay bills, or simply die.
ENSURING ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS (HB469)
Under this bill, all insurance sold in Pennsylvania would have to include coverage for essential care. Health insurance should be worth more than the paper it’s printed on. Insurance that covers nothing is worse than no insurance at all – it’s throwing away money on worthless premiums that could be spent on care. Essential care would include:
- Ambulatory patient services.
- Emergency services.
- Maternity and newborn care.
- Mental health and substance abuse disorder services, including behavioral health treatment.
- Prescription drugs.
- Rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices, and chronic disease management.
- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
ENDING LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE (HB470)
Prevents insurance plans from stopping payment if a policyholder reaches arbitrary limits. Without this bill, someone who develops cancer -- or survives COVID-19 -- could exhaust their coverage and be dropped. Pennsylvanians deserve to know their policy can’t be canceled just because some insurance company accountant decides the cost of their care is too high.
PRESERVING COVERAGE FOR ADULT CHILDREN (HB913)
Allows parents to keep adult children on their insurance coverage until age 26. With more than half of young adults living in their parents’ home due to the Trump/Republican economic downturn, low wages, and the massive costs of housing and student loan debt, this bill would keep more working people healthy and give our young adults a better start toward their future.
The lawmakers noted the commonwealth is launching a state-based insurance exchange at www.pennie.com to allow Pennsylvanians to shop for a plan in a more efficient way than on the federal exchange, so protecting access to coverage is a must.
A discharge resolution is a rarely-used method to move vital legislation to the floor of the House of Representatives for an up-or-down vote when the majority party chooses to bottle it up in committee to deny any debate or consideration. To successfully move legislation with a discharge resolution, 25 lawmakers must sign on to the resolution, then give public notice during a House of Representatives’ voting session they intend to bring it up for consideration. This resolution could be voted on as soon as Thursday, Oct. 1 and passed if just nine Republicans join Democrats to put health care and people first.