October 03, 2019

Manchin Leads Senators In Urging Trump Administration To Protect People With Pre-Existing Conditions

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) led 39 Senators today in urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions by limiting the proliferation of “junk plans” – short-term insurance plans that can exclude coverage for essential benefits and provide no protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The Senators said in part: “The Administration’s rule on state waivers allows taxpayer dollars to go to these junk plans, accelerating the problems we are already seeing with junk plans and leaving fewer resources for people who purchase high quality insurance. Additionally, the Administration’s new rule weakens coverage by allowing waivers that increase premiums and out-of-pocket costs for those who need health care most. We have worked tirelessly to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions from barriers to coverage. We urge you to do the same, including by limiting the proliferation of short-term junk plans and ensuring that consumers in every state are protected by federal consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

The Trump Administration recently issued a rule that allows states to ignore federal consumer protections and use taxpayer dollars to subsidize junk insurance plans that cover less and cost more. These junk plans can exclude coverage of essential benefits like prescription drugs, emergency room visits, maternity care, or mental health care. Additionally, under this rule, states can give insurance companies the green light to discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions by increasing costs, limiting coverage, or denying coverage altogether.

In their letter, the Senators urged HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to limit the spread of short-term junk plans and safeguard Affordable Care Act (ACA) protections that increase access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance, and forbid insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions.

The letter is available here.