One of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act prevents insurers from denying coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. But Republicans seek to repeal the law in its entirety and have gone to great lengths to oppose the new consumer protection. Just ask Georgia Rep. Tom Price, a medical doctor, who has introduced a replacement bill which would not require insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions. When asked why he omitted that provision, Price was blunt in his assessment:
They are even divided over whether some of the popular pieces of Obama’s health law are a good idea. For example, most Republicans support the health law’s requirement that insurance companies accept all applicants — but the replacement plan put forward by the most prominent Republican ignores that idea.
“It’s a terrible idea,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the sponsor of the plan, told POLITICO. He said Democrats only enacted the provision in order to require exactly what kinds of insurance Americans must have. He would rather expand coverage voluntarily.
Price may think opening coverage to Americans who need it most is a “terrible idea,” but for many of those Americans, it is a matter of life or death. As many as 122 million Americans have an illness which could result in an insurer denying them coverage; they paid as much as $4,844 more a year for health care than those without pre-existing conditions. And a study from 2009 found that 45,000 Americans a year died because they don’t have access to care.
Despite some Republican claims that this provision would somehow do more harm than good, children up to the age of 19 are already receiving care regardless of pre-existing conditions as a result of the law. By 2014, that provision will extend to everyone. If, on the other hand, the individual mandate is repealed, health insurers have already said they will return to the practice of denying coverage to sick Americans.