Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) is offering to help constituents with pre-existing conditions who may struggle to access health care following the passage of the American Health Care Act — after having voted for the bill that would roll back their coverage.
When you visit the congressman’s website, a pop-up window appears. The window reads, “Having problems getting (or keeping) Medicaid or Medicare or finding health coverage due to a preexisting condition? I want to help!”
If you click on the window for assistance, it takes you to a Casework Form page that is designed to help constituents who need to communicate with federal agencies, say they have been treated unfairly, or have an “inability to retain, Medicaid or Medicare or trouble finding (or keeping) coverage due to preexisting conditions following passage of the American Health Care Act.”
It’s common for members of Congress to offer to help constituents get an answer from an agency in a timely manner. But it’s unclear exactly what Denham plans to do to help people with pre-existing conditions. ThinkProgress reached out to his Washington, D.C. and Modesto offices for an answer as to how he planned to assist people who have trouble finding or keeping health care coverage. ThinkProgress also asked why Denham voted for a bill that would put people with pre-existing conditions in a position where they needed to reach out to him for help.
Rep. Denham’s communications director, Jessica McFaul, responded to ThinkProgress’ request with this statement:
Congressman Denham wants to make sure that constituent concerns are fully represented as the American Health Care Act continues through the legislative process. To do so, it’s important that constituents are aware that they can — and should — notify him of any changes in their coverage as a result of changes to the Affordable Care Act, and where possible, his staff will intervene with federal agencies on their behalf.
McFaul said the website was updated to include this information the day after Denham voted for the health care bill.
Last week, Denham met with constituents, where he was challenged for his decision to vote for the health care bill. Denham told constituents that he did not think California would opt out of requiring that insurers offer certain types of coverage. He added that the $8 billion included in the bill to help high-risk enrollees assured him that people with pre-existing conditions would have the resources they need.
Health care experts such as Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, have said $8 billion is not nearly enough. Constituents at the event said they had poor experiences with high-risk pools, such as waiting periods.
During a town hall meeting in April, Denham said he wouldn’t support the legislation because of its issues with coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and changes to Medicaid. Constituents accused him of lying to them.
Denham responded, “Actually, what I said was, I cannot support a bill that does not address pre-existing conditions,” according to KQED, a Northern California media outlet. He was interrupted by people who shouted, “This one doesn’t.”