House GOPer: Move To Another State If You Have A Pre-Existing Condition

UNITED STATES - MARCH 8: Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club, March 8, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
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May 2, 2017 12:17 p.m.

President Donald Trump and GOP leaders are asserting that their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act will protect people with pre-existing conditions—despite fact that the current bill allows states to waive the protections, giving insurers a green light to jack up the rates of those with a chronic illness or disability.

Other rank-and-file lawmakers have been more blunt.

“People can go to the state that they want to live in,” Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) told reporters Tuesday morning when asked if people with pre-existing conditions could be charged much more under the American Health Care Act.

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“States have all kinds of different policies and there are disparities among states for many things: driving restrictions, alcohol, whatever,” he continued. “We’re putting choices back in the hands of the states. That’s what Jeffersonian democracy provides for.”

Pittenger acknowledged that under an amendment to the bill rolled out in April to win over the support of hardline conservatives, states can apply for waivers to Obamacare’s community rating rule, which limits how much insurance companies can charge people with pre-existing conditions. With no limit set in the bill for what insurers could charge, many patient advocacy groups say they’re afraid millions of people could be priced out of health insurance entirely.

Under the GOP’s amended bill, states could also seek waivers to Obamacare’s essential health benefits rule, allowing insurers to sell bare bones plans that don’t cover things like prescription medicine, emergency room visits, or maternity care.

“This is federalism,” Pittenger said. “This brings the choices back to the American people and back to the states.”

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