The Womxn Project is a statewide organization focused on leveraging the power of art, activism, advocacy and education to advance the principles of reproductive justice, which demands that we all have the right to determine when and how we build our relationships, families and futures and that we have the ability to live and raise our children with dignity.
We are proud to submit testimony in support of H. 5843, which ensure important health insurance protections currently offered under the federal Affordable Care Act are included in our state laws. This means no matter what happens at the federal level that in our state we work to eliminate barriers to care to build strong, healthy, empowered families and communities.
Millions of people under the age of 65 in this country have a preexisting medical condition that prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) meant that many insurers would deny coverage or charge higher premiums. It is estimated that the Coronavirus will add more than 3 million people needing protections for preexisting conditions. While the change in administration means the immediate threat to the ACA has faded, we don’t want to wait around and do nothing in the face of such a huge threat to the health and financial stability of families in our state.
Prior to the ACA, it was up to the states to determine how to protect people with preexisting conditions. Some had very limited protections in place, but in too many places insurers frequently discriminated against, charged more, or refused to cover certain benefits for people with preexisting conditions. Many would deny the ability to even get insurance coverage. The ACA put a stop to these practices by creating key consumer protections, including a prohibition against preexisting condition exclusions.
Ensuring that people with preexisting conditions have access to affordable, quality health insurance is widely supported by the public. We are talking about people who have survived cancer or a childhood illness. Some insurance plans treated pregnancy as a preexisting condition. People with chronic health conditions were denied medications or treatments to help them manage their condition. People suffered or even lost their life to something that could be easily addressed. Millions were left uninsured or underinsured as a result.
The ACA improved the availability, affordability, and adequacy of private health insurance. We have the opportunity to make sure that many of the key provisions that helped to close gaps and get people the care they need are enshrined in our state laws. We can make sure that in our state insurers don’t deny coverage or benefits or charge higher premiums because of a patient’s preexisting condition or health status. The bill also addresses annual out-of-pocket expenses for covered services and the practice of lifetime and annual dollar limits on covered benefits.
Each of these provisions has been critical to ensuring access to affordable, quality insurance. Healthcare is a human right. The right to health for all people means that everyone should have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship. No one should get sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access the health services they need. This bill is an important step towards achieving that goal. We must continue to do all we can to eliminate barriers to the services we need to get and stay health, to manage our bodies, to care for our families, and to plan for our futures.
We urge your support of this important legislation. It is an important first step. Thank you for your consideration.
Contact: Barbara Colt ([email protected] or 401-400-0061)