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Warner forces Senate vote to protect people with pre-existing conditions

mark warner newThe Senate voted 52-43 to reject a Congressional Review Act resolution led by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.

This resolution, which needed 51 votes to pass, would have overturned a Trump administration waiver rule that will destabilize the nation’s health insurance market, weaken protections for 3 million Virginians with pre-existing conditions, and increase costs for millions of Americans.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Warner spoke on the Senate floor, stressing the need to protect Americans’ health care and urging his colleagues to vote for this measure.

“These ‘junk’ plans don’t have to cover things like emergency room visits, maternity care, or other essential benefits. And they once again allow insurance companies to discriminate against Americans based on their medical history. With all due respect to my Republican colleagues, you can’t have it both ways,” Sen. Warner said on the Senate floor. “If you support protections for pre-existing conditions, you can’t sit by and let the Trump administration dismantle them. You have to stand up and defend these protections because folks back home are counting on them.”

“Unfortunately, this administration has used every tool at its disposal to destabilize the market, in the hopes that it will come crashing down so they can finally repeal the ACA. The rule we’re talking about today is a perfect example. Among many others: that they have defunded cost sharing payments that reduce premiums in the marketplace, and they’ve shortened the open enrollment period and cut the budget for outreach navigators who help Americans find a plan that works best for them,” he said on the floor. “The Trump administration’s rule is not a good-faith effort to bring down costs or drive innovation. It is a direct effort to undermine the stability of the insurance market. And it is an attack on the viability of protections for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.”

The Trump administration’s waiver rule currently allows states to use taxpayer dollars to push junk plans that destabilize the health insurance market. These bare-bones plans, which can discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, are not required to cover essential benefits like prescription drugs, emergency room visits, or other essential benefits. These junk plans also raise premiums for quality insurance plans and increase costs for older Americans and people with pre-existing conditions who need comprehensive coverage.

Earlier this year, Sen. Warner introduced the Protect Pre-Existing Conditions CRA resolution and successfully filed a discharge petition to bring the CRA resolution to the floor for a vote.

Congressional Review Act resolutions exercise Congress’ authority to review and overturn rules implemented by the executive branch. Unlike other legislation on the Senate floor, a Congressional Review Act resolution only needs a simple majority to pass and can be brought to the Senate floor for a vote with 30 signatures. One Republican joined all Senate Democrats in supporting Warner’s resolution, falling short of the 51 votes needed to pass.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press