Within a months of being sworn in to her second term in Congress, Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) made — and then broke — a promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions. When it came to voting alongside Trump or keeping her promise to constituents, Walters chose Trump.
In January 2017, Walters boldly promised she was “committed to protecting patients w/ pre-existing conditions to ensure their access to quality, affordable healthcare.”
Less than four months later, Walters “cast a vote for a plan allows insurance companies in some cases to charge higher premiums to people with cancer, diabetes and other common preexisting conditions — even pregnancy,” according to USA Today.
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, insurers were allowed to charge higher premiums or even deny coverage if someone had a pre-existing medical condition. The ACA, also called Obamacare, changed that practice, meaning insurers could no longer deny coverage, nor could they charge individuals with pre-existing coverage more, one of the most popular provisions of the law.
But Walters voted to go back to a world where discrimination would be allowed once again. For example, before the ACA, a woman was denied health insurance because she got medical treatment after she was raped. According to HuffPost:
Christina Turner feared that she might have been sexually assaulted after two men slipped her a knockout drug. She thought she was taking proper precautions when her doctor prescribed a month’s worth of anti-AIDS medicine.
Only later did she learn that she had made herself all but uninsurable.
Turner had let the men buy her drinks at a bar in Fort Lauderdale. The next thing she knew, she said, she was lying on a roadside with cuts and bruises that indicated she had been raped. She never developed an HIV infection. But months later, when she lost her health insurance and sought new coverage, she ran into a problem.
Turner, 45, who used to be a health insurance underwriter herself, said the insurance companies examined her health records. Even after she explained the assault, the insurers would not sell her a policy because the HIV medication raised too many health questions. They told her they might reconsider in three or more years if she could prove that she was still AIDS-free.
Walters voted to return to a world where seeking medical attention for assault could preclude people from obtaining health insurance.
While Republicans claimed the bill would still protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, fact-checkers set the record straight.
“Insurers would be able to charge people significantly more if they had a pre-existing condition like heart disease, cancer, diabetes or arthritis — possibly requiring people to pay thousands of dollars extra every year to remain insured,” said Politifact.
Walters’ attempt to use legislation to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions ultimately failed to pass the Senate.
But the Trump administration is now seeking to use the courts to fulfill Walters’ legislative goal.
As SoCal Daily recently reported, “Trump’s Justice Department filed a briefing late Thursday stating it will no longer defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against state lawsuits, and telling courts to strike down provisions including the individual mandate and protections requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.”
Whether through legislation or the courts, Trump and Walters are working hard to bring back an America where cancer survivors, individuals with heart disease, people fighting diabetes, and so many others can be charged exorbitant premiums for health insurance.