Kevin Cramer: People with preexisting conditions trying to ‘game’ and ‘abuse’ the system

Congressman Kevin Cramer explained in a recent interview that the new Republican healthcare bill would penalize individuals and children with preexisting conditions — like those with diabetes, asthma, cancer, or women who are pregnant — who try to get health insurance. Cramer goes on to explain that these individuals — our families, kids, and neighbors — are trying to ‘game’ and ‘abuse’ the healthcare system when they try to get health insurance to avoid being bankrupted by the cost.

Kevin Cramer: People with preexisting conditions trying to ‘game’ and ‘abuse’ the system

There’s no hiding it: The Republican health care bill allows discriminating against individuals with preexisting conditions, and it takes away many of the protections that currently exist.

Included in the latest version of the Republican healthcare bill, which Cramer supports, a new amendment would allow states — such as North Dakota — to apply for waivers that could greatly increase the cost while decreasing the quality of coverage.

Not only can states opt out of covering Essential Health Benefits, including hospitalization, pregnancy, prescription drug coverage, and other services, but insurers in those states have the option to offer less robust policies that do not cover all critically needed treatments and medications. Further, insurance companies will likely be less willing to offer plans with comprehensive coverage, as they would attract high-risk consumers with costly conditions.

The Republican healthcare bill would also allow states to change the Affordable Care Act’s community rating provision, which bans insurers from charging enrollees more based on their medical history. As a result, insurers would be able to charge higher premiums to those with preexisting conditions who let their coverage lapse.

In a joint statement, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, March of Dimes, National Organization for Rare Disorders, National MS Society, and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, said:

As introduced, the bill would profoundly reduce coverage for millions of Americans — including many low-income and disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid — and increase out-of-pocket costs for the sickest and oldest among us. We are alarmed by recent harmful changes to the AHCA, including provisions that will weaken key consumer protections. These changes include allowing states to waive the requirement for essential health benefits, which could deny patients the care and treatment they need to treat their conditions.
Another change allows states to waive protections against health status rating. Weakening these rules would enable insurers to charge higher prices to people with pre-existing conditions, possibly making insurance unaffordable for those who need it most.
States that waive health status rating protections would be required to set up a high risk sharing program, which may include a high-risk pool. Offering these risk sharing mechanisms as an alternative to affordable health insurance is not a viable option, particularly high-risk pools. Previous state high risk pools resulted in higher premiums, long waiting lists and inadequate coverage.
Weakening protections in favor of high-risk pools would also undermine the ban on discrimination based on health status. The individuals and families we represent cannot go back to a time when people with preexisting conditions could be denied coverage or forced to choose between purchasing basic necessities and affording their health care coverage. Given these factors, we oppose the latest draft of the AHCA. We urge Members of Congress to reject this legislation.

Like the above patient organizations who represent over one hundred million Americans battling chronic and other major health conditions, we challenge Cramer to remember the over 300,000 North Dakotans with preexisting conditions who will be hurt by this legislation.