Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released figures highlighting the number of children in Wisconsin with pre-existing conditions who, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, will be protected from discrimination based on their health. Baldwin joined her Senate colleagues Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) at a press conference on Capitol Hill today to highlight the issue.
As many as 2,489,279 non-elderly Wisconsinites have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 309,519 children. Because of America's health care law, since 2010 insurance companies have been prohibited from denying health coverage for children in Wisconsin with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, asthma, or diabetes. Starting in 2014, insurance companies will also no longer be able to deny coverage for adults or charge anyone higher premiums based on health status or history.
"Today, because of the Affordable Care Act, children with pre-existing conditions have protections that they didn't have before and can't be denied coverage. Because of America's new health care law, for the first time insurance companies will be prohibited from denying health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions," said Senator Baldwin. "In the United States of America, health care should be a right guaranteed to all, not a privilege reserved for the few. That vision has guided us for decades. But now we have begun to write it into our laws. That is what we have fought for and will continue to fight for as we move the Affordable Care Act forward."
Steven Jordheim from Grand Chute, Wis. recently contacted Senator Baldwin's office to share that his young, 27- year old daughter with a pre-existing condition has finally been able to purchase private insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act. When she was 14, she contracted food poisoning and had severe complications that eventually developed into gall bladder disease and other conditions. Due to these pre-existing conditions, she has been unable to purchase a health insurance plan on the market, and all of her life decisions have been driven by her need to be a full-time student to stay on her father's healthcare plan. She finished school a year ago and is a successful freelance musician. Without the ACA, she would have to take a position outside of her field in order to have a healthcare plan under an employer. But now because of the Affordable Care Act she is able to continue with her career and pursue her dreams. She recently enrolled in her own plan on Healthcare.gov with a national provider network. Her parents have been worrying about their daughter getting her own insurance for 13 years, but can now rest easy and are thankful for the Affordable Care Act.
Helping middle class families take advantage of the benefits of the health care law like the security of affordable health care coverage and protection from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions should be a top priority for lawmakers in Washington. Yet instead of working to fix the law, a minority in Congress has voted to repeal the health care law more than 40 times, even shutting down the government to prevent new benefits like ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, taking away peace of mind for millions of children and their parents -- including up to 310,000 kids in Wisconsin.