Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) gleefully voted for a health care bill that would eliminate health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Because the Senate refused to pass that bill, the Trump administration is trying to accomplish in the courts what Knight and Congress were prevented from doing through legislation.
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers could deny health insurance coverage, or charge exorbitant premiums, to someone who had a pre-existing medical conditions. In California, half of the population aged 18-64 has a pre-existing condition.
Prior to voting on the repeal of the ACA, Knight publicly vowed that he would not vote against protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
“I will keep [protections for] pre-existing conditions,” Knight said at a town hall in April 2017.
However, Knight went back on his promise and voted for the Republican health care plan, which eliminated protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
After he voted for the bill, Knight lied about the impact of the bill. On his website, he said that the bill would “absolutely not” result in people with pre-existing conditions losing their health insurance. His repeated falsehoods resulted in at least one misleading headline, “Steve Knight: Everybody With a Pre-Existing Condition Will Be Covered.”
According to Politifact, Knight simply wasn’t telling the truth.
“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,” the fact-checking site said at the time.
In their analysis, Politifact provided more detail:
Matt Fiedler, a health care analyst for the Brookings Institute, said the AHCA would force people with a pre-existing condition to choose between two different pools of insurance coverage, both with “a very high premium.”
“In either case, people with serious health conditions would lack access to affordable insurance options,” he said.
The AARP opposes the AHCA for that reason.
So does the nation’s largest group of doctors, the American Medical Association, which said the AHCA will do “serious harm to patients and the health care delivery system.”
With the failure of the Senate to pass the Knight-backed repeal of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the Trump administration is now asking the court to do it.
As SoCal Daily previously 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.”
The renewed attack on individuals with pre-existing conditions is just the latest salvo in an ongoing campaign to sabotage health care policies. Republican provisions tucked into the unpopular tax bill are directly responsible for higher health care premiums next year. This latest political stunt by the Trump administration could impact rates even more, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
“The Justice Department’s brief creates another cloud of uncertainty for insurers, just as they’re filing proposed ACA rates for 2019,” says Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the KFF. “When insurance companies face uncertainty, they increase premiums.”
The L.A. Times criticizes both Trump and congressional Republicans like Knight for prioritizing those already healthy over anyone who needs affordable access to health care.
“But rather than trying to mitigate those problems by spreading costs more broadly, the administration (and congressional Republicans) have focused on Balkanizing the market in ways that help only those who are healthy.”
Knight went back on his solemn word when he tried to rip away protections from individuals with pre-existing conditions. And now Trump, who Knight voted for in 2016 and supports 99 percent of the time in Congress, is trying to finish what Knight started.