PA House Democrats look to protect health coverage for state residents in face of threats to Affordable Care law

HARRISBURG, Jan. 14 – House Democrats signaled today that they will move to force action in the PA House on critical legislation to protect access to health care for Pennsylvanians in the face of efforts by President Trump and Washington extremists and special interests to destroy the Affordable Care law.

“The affordable care law gave millions more Americans access to health insurance, saved countless families from bankruptcy resulting from exorbitant health care costs, kept rural and urban hospitals open in Pennsylvania, and created and preserved thousands of health care jobs,” Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said. “We’re standing up for people’s health care, not the agenda of political extremists and special interests. That’s why we want votes in the House on these bills to save lives and the financial well-being of Pennsylvania individuals and families.”

The legislation House Democrats will attempt to force a vote on includes:

Protect people with pre-existing conditions (H.B. 471 sponsored by state Rep. Peter Schweyer). Protects and preserves a person’s access to health insurance and the ability to see a doctor, even if they have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, breast cancer, high blood pressure or even pregnancy.

“When people can’t see the doctor or access health care, they skip checkups, get sicker and sometimes die. Many people without insurance face bankruptcy,” Schweyer said. “We cannot allow insurance companies to refuse to cover people simply because they are born with or develop health issues. We’ll never have a better health care system by taking coverage away from the people who need it most.”

Ensure essential health benefits are covered (H.B. 469 sponsored by state Rep. Tony DeLuca). Ensure that policies sold in Pennsylvania include coverage for these essential health services: ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health, substance abuse disorders and behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitation services and devices and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including dental and vision care.

“When you purchase health insurance, it should be worth more than the paper it’s printed on,” DeLuca said. “Many of the cheap policies President Trump and his special interest allies have been promoting in lieu of quality health coverage don’t cover the services people depend on and need, a bait and switch that forces people to pay out-of-pocket for care they thought was covered and that should be covered.”

End lifetime limits on coverage (H.B. 470 sponsored by state Rep. Dan Frankel). Preserve insurance coverage for the nearly 5 million Pennsylvanians – more than a million of them children – who face chronic conditions and face a loss of coverage and financial disaster, and even death, if their care is cut off after they reach certain coverage limits.

“How much health care you get should be based on how much health care you need, not tailored to an arbitrary number that looks good to an actuary,” Frankel said. “Before the ACA, health insurance plans came with built-in limits on how much care you could get in a year – or a lifetime. When people got really sick and needed a lot of medical attention to get well, that’s when they found out their insurance had cut them.”

Preserve coverage for adult children up to age 26 (H.B. 913 sponsored by state Rep. Mark Longietti). Give adult children the choice to remain on a parent’s health insurance so they can stay healthy while they build their career and financial security.

“More and more adult children are graduating and starting work, but still living at home while saving to start a family, buy their first home and pay off massive student debt,” Longietti said. “By making sure parents and their adult children can choose to keep this coverage, and not allowing employers to decide when a family member gets kicked off coverage, we will allow young adults to stay healthy while building strong futures, and give working people more power.”

Democrats said they plan to file discharge petitions on the four pieces of legislation in an attempt to force the bills out of committee, where they have been stalled by Republican leaders and committee chairs for almost a year, and onto the full House for a debate and vote.