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HB 21 would mandate coverage for preexisting conditions
Bill eliminates insurers' ability to deny health care coverage to those with preexisting conditions
By Crystal Staley/Sebastian Kitchen
Frankfort, KY - Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced support for a bill sponsored by Rep. Patti Minter of Bowling Green that would eliminate insurers' ability to deny health care coverage to approximately 1.8 million Kentuckians with preexisting medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and cancer.
If passed, the bill (HB 21) will align state laws with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and protect Kentucky families needing access to health care, even if the federal law is overturned in court. The bill applies to private and public insurance plans, including the state health plan, which covers more than 265,000 public employees, educators and pre-65 retirees.
"I believe health care is a basic human right and that denying coverage based on preexisting conditions is wrong," Gov. Beshear said. "I am fighting with Rep. Minter because I understand the anxiety facing our families - three out of four of my family members have a preexisting condition. It is time for Kentucky to act with urgency and make sure all our families will be able to see a doctor and get treatment when they need it most."
Rep. Minter said the bill also protects Kentuckians with preexisting conditions from being price-gouged and bans artificially long waiting periods to obtain coverage.
"I've introduced HB 21 because no Kentuckian should ever lose their health care coverage because they have a preexisting condition," said Rep. Minter. "Given the uncertainty around our federal health care law, we need to take action now, and protect people here at home."
Thirty-eight House members have signed on to the bill, which has been introduced in the House Banking and Insurance Committee.
"Nearly 1.8 million Kentuckians have a preexisting condition, and the rest of us are simply an accident or illness away. That's why the ACA has become such a critical part of Kentucky's safety net - it catches people when something goes wrong," said Executive Director for Kentucky Voices for Health Emily Beauregard. "HB 21 maintains these protections through state law, giving Kentuckians peace of mind and greater financial security."
Amanda Perkins, of Lexington, who has a preexisting condition, spoke Tuesday in support of the measure.
"We are told by our government that everyone with preexisting conditions will be covered, but the loss of the protections in the ACA make that untrue," said Perkins. "That is why I am so thankful for HB 21 and it's sponsors. The protection it provides and the peace of mind it brings is something we all should support."
Len Ward, of Louisville, who also has a preexisting condition, also urged lawmakers to act and pass the measure.
Today's announcement by Gov. Beshear is in furtherance of work he started while serving as attorney general, when he fought in several legal cases to protect health care. Gov. Beshear continues to fight in those cases, and on Monday, the United States Supreme Court announced it would hear one of the cases, Texas v. U.S.
If the case is not overturned, Kentuckians would be harmed in several critical ways, including: expanded Medicaid would be eliminated; children under the age of 26 would not be able to remain on their parents' insurance; seniors would have to pay more for prescription drugs; and guaranteed pregnancy coverage would be eliminated.
Gov. Beshear said he would continue to lead the state's efforts to preserve access to affordable health care for more than a million Kentuckians and tens of millions of Americans.
This story was posted on 2020-03-03 11:35:38
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