June 13, 2018

ICYMI: Manchin Reads Letters From West Virginians About Importance of Protecting Coverage for Those with Pre-Existing Conditions on Senate Floor

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) took to the Senate floor today to read letters from West Virginians about the importance of continuing to require insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions. An ongoing lawsuit, led by 20 U.S. Attorneys General, including the Attorney General of West Virginia, and as of last week no longer being defended by the U.S. Department of Justice, would allow insurance companies to once again deny coverage to West Virginians with pre-existing conditions.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s remarks, please click here.

Read Senator Manchin’s floor remarks as prepared for delivery below:

I have always said that our nation’s current healthcare system is in need of repair. But every West Virginian deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare. And I am very concerned our country is at risk of moving backward instead of forward.

When people ask why I voted against repealing the healthcare law, I always say it’s because we need to make sure those with pre-existing conditions don’t go bankrupt paying for basic healthcare. What’s happening today is an unfortunate political move. The only reason this lawsuit is moving forward is because they have failed to repeal the law.  Congress has voted more than 50 times.

Right now 20 U.S. Attorneys General, including the Attorney General of West Virginia, are suing to allow insurance companies to once again deny coverage to West Virginians with pre-existing conditions. Every single time they voted for a repeal, this is what they wanted.

What makes this worse is we have a bipartisan compromise led by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray with 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats. This bill includes important steps will help reduce healthcare costs for West Virginia families, and this agreement shows what is possible when we put people before politics. Shame on us for not voting on that.

This is impacting real people. More than 800,000 West Virginians have a pre-existing condition.  On Monday, I asked them to share their stories with me and my office has been flooded with stories. I’m going to share just a few of these stories with you today.

Kim Kramer from Parkersburg

Dear Senator Manchin,

Again I find myself writing to plea for a sane policy related to healthcare for my family, my friends, my community, my country and myself.  When healthcare policy is centered around quick profits at the cost of the long term health of citizens, a medical tsunami is sure to follow.

I live with my adult son who was born with Down Syndrome. He is 33 and I am 60. He is healthy for now but does have a couple of pre-existing conditions and risk factors which could very possibility need attention as he grows older.  The mere thought that I would have to pay out of pocket for his healthcare due to policy changes in the years to come is mind boggling. Perhaps today his care is not directly on the table, but it has been this past year and will most likely be again.

I am at pre-retirement age.  I work full time and am in good health.  But I take medication to maintain a healthy blood pressure.  That is already a pre-existing condition. Medicare is still down the road for me.  As a nurse, I know the importance of screening for certain conditions. 

But removing coverage of pre-existing conditions puts me in a very real catch 22 situation.

If I go for recommended health screenings and a condition is found, I would be covered by my current insurance.  If my employment situation should change,  as is possible for any of us, then I would  have a pre-existing condition that would either not be covered or would make my premium so high that I would have to wonder if I will be able to provide for other basic needs like appropriate housing.

Many in my family, my circle of friends, my community and state would be in this terrible predicament.

Any diagnosis would be a barrier to treatment in essence.   No insurance company apparently wants to cover sick people!  Makes me wonder why we would call it insurance at all!

Perhaps in Washington, too many of you have lost touch with the very real stress and anxiety that is created when healthcare accessibility is unobtainable.  

Do any of you understand what it is like to live wondering when the medical tsunami will come?   Because not having healthcare coverage is like that.  You hope that the wave won’t strike but it’s just beyond the horizon and you have no idea if or when it is coming, or how to survive it. 

The current mandate for coverage of pre-existing conditions assures better health and prevention treatments; better outcomes and decreased expenses.  It give us all some peace of mind if we become ill and allows us to focus on getting healthy.

Please care about our people. Please keep mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions. Thank you.  

Katelyn from Elkview

Dear Senator Manchin,

I am a 22 year old West Virginian who grew up in northern Kanawha County near Clendenin. I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was 13, and have struggled with it for years. I am thankful that the ACA created provisions that will allow me to remain on my parents' health insurance until I am 26, but worry that my pre-existing condition could prevent me from getting insured in the future.

Losing health insurance would mean me losing access to my mental health medication, as well as making it really difficult to access further treatment should I have a relapse.

I also worry about how lack of coverage for my preexisting condition could prevent me from affording care in the future - I hope to devote my life to public service, which is very fulfilling but does not pay well enough for me to afford to pay high medical bills. This is something that particularly worries me as I get older and am thinking about whether I will be able to afford to start a family.

I hope that you will continue to defend the Affordable Care Act, particularly its provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions and women's health generally.  

Larry from Lewisburg

Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer in my mid-forties, the health insurance company I paid for coverage went bankrupt.  Faced with a pre-existing condition, I was uninsured until I began receiving Medicare, about 20 years later. Even though I had been therapeutically treated and had no symptoms or return of tumors for most of that time.

An adult step daughter has MS, epilepsy, and multiple other health challenges. She works full time, and the end of pre-existing condition insurance protection would be life threatening.

Marie-Claire from Bruceton Mills

Dear Senator Manchin,

My daughter was diagnosed with Lupus shortly after Obamacare became reality. I was able to secure affordable health insurance for her from that day forward.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can, and eventually will, affect ANY part of the body, at ANY time.

An insurance company faced with underwriting my daughter simply will NOT insure her. EVER. Unless mandated by our government to cover preexisting conditions. Simple as that.

She has had multiple late night trips to the emergency room that would have bankrupted her had she not been covered.

Please do not forget her when you tell stories on the Senate Floor.