The Republican attempts to effectively repeal the Patient's Bill of Rights met with fierce opposition from Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on Thursday as their GOP colleagues conspired to deny health care safeguards for the vast majority of Americans.
The Republicans intend to approve legislation that would allow the insurance industry to set lifetime limits on needed medical care, deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including children, take away coverage when patients get sick or have an accident, charge expensive co-pays for preventive care and refuse to cover dependent children up to age 26 under their parents' policies.
Congressman John Dingell, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congresswoman Lois Capps voiced their opposition to the "Republican Repeal" and spoke about the damage that could be done to health care consumers if they lose their rights.
"The Repeal Republicans want to rescind the Patient's Bill of Rights and leave tens of millions of Americans at the mercy of the insurance companies," said Congressman Pallone, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee. "Patients would be denied coverage, lose it when they need it most and pay more for much of their medical care. Doctors should be making health care decisions with their patients and not have the insurance companies come between them."
According to the Congressional Budget Office more than 160 million people had private insurance in 2010. All of these individuals and any additional people joining these "grandfathered" plans could lose important consumer protections under the Republican Repeal.
"I will not let the misrepresentations by the other side and fat cat CEOs for the insurance companies misinform and confuse the public any longer," said Congressman Dingell. "The historic reforms of the Affordable Care Act included a Patient's Bill of Rights that builds critical consumer protections into our health care system and ends the control of insurance companies over consumers."
"The medical loss ratio requirements and grandfather provisions are cornerstones of these consumer protections and must not be repealed," Congressman Dingell added. "One, these new rules help consumers. Two, these new rules protect consumers. And finally, these new rules strengthen the long-term viability of the medical and health care industry. We as a nation must move forward to stay globally competitive and economically sound, and this includes our health care industry. These new rules build a path that sets our nation on a reasonable, achievable path to provide affordable and quality health for our people."
The Republicans also want to do away with the requirement that insurance companies allocate at least 80 percent of premium dollars to patient care and no more than 20 percent to CEO salaries, bonuses and corporate profits.
"The Patient's Bill of Rights has already made a tremendous difference in the lives of my constituents and in Americans across this country to guarantee that their health coverage will be there when you need it," said Congresswoman Capps. "It's just plain wrong to take this newfound security away from millions of Americans and instead condone the most abusive practices of the insurance industry."
The Republican Repeal would apply to insurance policies held by all Americans before the Patients Bill of Rights was enacted -- the "grandfather provisions" - primarily those with private insurance or coverage through their employers. Their grandfather scheme not only exempts current insurance plans from complying with the patient's rights, it would allow the companies to do away with existing rights. This allows grandfathered health plans to continue with current abuses and to rollback newly enacted reforms.
"The Energy and Commerce Committee has far more important priorities than holding hearing after hearing on partisan calls for the piecemeal repeal of the Affordable Care Act," said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. "Instead of wasting our time on legislation that is going nowhere, we should be taking the opportunity to work on getting the best, quality health care to all Americans."
The aftereffects of the Republican Repeal effort would be harsh:
* People could be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including children;
* More than 1.2 million young adults would lose their coverage through their parents' plans;
* More than 165 million Americans would be subject to lifetime limits;
* Close to 16 million Americans would be at dire risk of losing coverage at the whim of insurance companies if they get sick or hurt in an accident;
* Approximately 41 million Americans could once again be faced with expensive co-pays for preventive services, such as mammograms, flu shots and check-ups.
Underscoring the harm the Republican Repeal would inflict on young adults is a report released this week that found a significant increase in the number of dependent children now covered by their parents' insurance. In one year, 500,000 more young adults gained coverage, according to the Census Bureau.
Joining the Democratic lawmakers were Dick Woodruff, from the American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network and Miriam Brand, a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. Miriam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 6, and has since required frequent wellness checkups, as well as an insulin pump in order to avoid health complications. Because of health care reform, Miriam will be able to stay on her father's plan after she graduates.