"Despite Rhetoric About Preexisting Conditions, Boehner’s Health Care Plan Doesn’t Bar Denials"
While leading GOP opposition to health care reform over the past few months, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has simultaneously insisted that Republicans believe in helping Americans with preexisting conditions get health care. Currently, “in 44 states, it’s legal for health insurers to deny coverage to people who have previously been sick, or charge them more for treatment.”
“And so there are a number of things that Republicans believe are essential,” Boehner told NPR in September. “We believe that making sure that people who have preexisting conditions have access to affordable health insurance.” On Fox News last week, Boehner said that Republicans wanted to focus on helping “those with preexisting conditions“:
BOEHNER: Most of the 36 million that they say they’re going to cover already have access to some type of government program, or even their employer program, or have chosen just not to have health insurance. When you really boil this down, there are about seven or eight million people in America, those with preexisting conditions, those who are what I would describe as the working poor, and some early retirees who have a difficult time getting health insurance. We can help those people get health insurance and still bring down the cost of health insurance for the 85 percent of Americans who have it and think they pay too much for it.
But when Boehner previewed the House Republicans’ alternative health care plan for reporters yesterday, he admitted that the GOP’s proposal “will not prevent insurance providers from barring clients based on preexisting conditions.” “We do encourage more states to have high-risk pools,” said Boehner, which he called “a place where people with preexisting conditions will have an opportunity to get affordable health insurance.”
Roll Call points out, however, that “most states have such pools, but they often are much more expensive than regular insurance and have had only limited success in reducing the ranks of the uninsured.” President Obama and the Senate Finance Committee have also embraced increased funding for high risk pools, but only as a stop gap until 2013, when insurers would be prohibited from denying people coverage based on preexisting conditions under their legislation.