Shaheen Reintroduces Bill to Undo Trump-Era Rule that Dismantled Health Care Coverage for Americans with Preexisting Conditions

March 16, 2021

**Bill would overturn rule on Section 1332 waivers that promotes “junk health plans” that undermine health care coverage for Americans with preexisting conditions**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2021 with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). The bill would undo Trump-era rulemaking and guidance that, if fully enacted, would destabilize the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance market, weaken protections for Americans with preexisting conditions and increase costs for millions of individuals with quality health plans.

With nearly 30 million Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 – a disease disproportionately affecting communities of color – this legislation would ensure that health coverage for individuals living with preexisting conditions meets the ACA’s minimum quality and consumer protection standards.

“The Trump administration’s dangerous efforts to undermine and unravel the Affordable Care Act – and in the middle of the greatest health crisis of our lifetime – is shameful. It also demands a robust response to mitigate the damage done and ensure every American has access to the quality, affordable care they deserve. That’s precisely what this legislation aims to do,” said Shaheen. “Our legislation would reverse President Trump’s rule that promoted “junk health plans” which exclude safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions. Millions of Americans and thousands of Granite Staters live with pre-existing conditions, and that is not including the many who’ve been afflicted with COVID-19 which very well may be considered a pre-existing condition in the future. We cannot – now or ever – allow Americans with pre-existing conditions to be denied the care and coverage they need and deserve. Health care is a right, not a privilege.”

Beginning in 2018, the Trump administration issued changes to the 1332 waiver guidance in its effort to sabotage Americans’ health care and undermine the critical preexisting condition protections that millions of Americans rely on. On January 14, 2021, on its way out the door, the Trump administration cemented its harmful 1332 wavier guidance – making it more difficult for future administrations to undo. Specifically, this rule gives states the green light to use taxpayer dollars to push “junk” health insurance plans that cost more and cover less. Under these plans, insurance companies can charge people more if they have a preexisting condition, can deny specific benefits – or can deny coverage altogether.

Full text of the bill is available here.

Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to protect and improve the ACA. Shaheen successfully included in the American Rescue Plan premium tax credit enhancement provisions from her legislation, the Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act, which will expand coverage to millions of Americans who are currently uninsured and reduce health care costs for millions of additional individuals who already have coverage, which is especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates indicate Shaheen’s provision will lead to a more than 37 percent reduction in monthly premium costs, on average. Senator Shaheen also spearheaded Senate Democrats’ proposal to make health care affordable and accessible for Americans during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Shaheen also led all 47 Senate Democrats on a Senate resolution that would reverse the Department of Justice’s decision to side with U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling that would strike down the health care law. This health care sabotage could result in 133 million Americans losing protections for pre-existing conditions, millions more Americans without health insurance, soaring prescription drug costs for seniors and nearly 90,000 Granite Staters losing health care coverage. She introduced the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019 with Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to counteract the Trump administration’s sabotage efforts that slashed funding for health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent after Donald Trump took office. Shaheen, Baldwin and Warner called on the last administration to do more to prevent third-party web brokers from steering individuals toward junk health insurance plans that do not provide coverage of pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits.  

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