Schweyer/Hughes defend health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions

HARRISBURG, Oct. 16 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, and state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Phila., today held a Capitol news conference outlining their legislation designed to stop health insurers from denying coverage to people based on pre-existing conditions.

Schweyer, who authored H.B. 2552, said we must protect people from having their health insurance denied because of a pre-existing condition.

“People deserve equal access to health insurance regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition and they shouldn’t lose their house paying for it. By not defending the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians at risk and H.B. 2552 is our way to fight back,” Schweyer said.

Schweyer’s legislation is a companion bill to S.B. 958 introduced by Hughes.

“The federal proposal to strip benefits from those with pre-existing conditions is despicable,” Hughes said. “We are fighting politicians who would penalize people in dire straits and make their lives more difficult by taking away health care rights under the Affordable Care Act. Senate Bill 958 will protect Pennsylvanians with preexisting conditions and I’m happy to work with Representative Schweyer in the House on this important cause.”

Schweyer said a pre-existing condition is a health problem a person had before the date that a new health insurance coverage starts. Epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, lupus, sleep apnea and pregnancy are all examples of pre-existing conditions.

House Democratic Insurance Committee Chairman Tony DeLuca expressed the need for the legislature to consider Schweyer’s bill.

I am a sponsor of this legislation and I am in support of my colleagues and the people of Pennsylvania – on pushing this legislation through the process,” said DeLuca, D-Allegheny. “This is about the lives and health care of the citizens in this commonwealth. We cannot sit by idly and watch the president and the Republican majority in Washington, D.C. attempt to take away protections currently embedded in federal laws.”

In July, Schweyer and the House Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing and heard testimony from insurance and medical-related officials on his legislation.

According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, up to 5.4 million people in Pennsylvania have a pre-existing health condition. Now, the health insurance companies cannot refuse coverage or charge people more because of pre-existing conditions.

Because of the ACA, nearly 1.1 million Pennsylvanians have health coverage. More than 700,000 Pennsylvanians receive health insurance coverage through the Medicaid expansion, which was implemented by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2015.

In 2017 more than 426,000 people in Pennsylvania have signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. Under the ACA, health plans must cover preventative services such as flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception and mammograms at no extra cost to consumers.

This provision benefits 6.1 million people in Pennsylvania.