From Raleigh to Washington, Thom Tillis has a record of trying to deny North Carolinians of health care coverage — from blocking Medicaid expansion as Speaker of the House, to voting 13 times to fully or partially repeal the Affordable Care Act and standing behind the GOP lawsuit that would dismantle the law, including coverage for 20 million people.
One of the consequences of gutting the Affordable Care Act would be putting health care protections for 1.7 million North Carolinians living with pre-existing conditions in jeopardy. Tillis has voted to take protections away from those North Carolinians, yet claimed “for the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would be opposed,” pointing to a bill called the Protect Act.
A new report from the Washington Post reveals the bill for what it is — an election-year sham: “Experts say the Tillis proposal does not offer the same level of protection for preexisting conditions as the ACA, and they warn that millions of Americans could lose their health coverage if the ACA falls and the Protect Act is the only replacement.”
A CBPP policy analyst says that the bill would leave many protections “on the cutting room floor,” allowing insurers to:
- Exclude coverage of benefits such as maternity care, mental health and substance-use treatment
- Set annual and lifetime limits on insurance payouts
- Charge older patients more than younger patients at greater levels than the ACA allows
Further, his bill does nothing to continue the Affordable Care Act’s option for states to expand Medicaid, which 634,000 North Carolinains stand to benefit from. That’s no surprise considering he “has taken credit for being the one to stop Medicaid expansion in the state,” and ran ads in 2014 saying he “stopped Obama’s Medicaid expansion cold.”
Tillis’ record on health care couldn’t be more clear as North Carolinians face the consequences of his decisions in the middle of a global pandemic: “Voters deserve straight answers when their health care is on the line.”
Washington Post: GOP senators in close races mislead on preexisting conditions
By Salvador Rizzo – July 15, 2020
- Republicans for a decade have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation. The Supreme Court has upheld the law twice in the face of challenges from conservative groups. As coronavirus cases reached a new high in the United States, the Trump administration filed a legal brief on June 25 asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law, joining with a group of GOP state attorneys general who argue that the ACA is unconstitutional.
- Before the ACA, insurance companies could factor in a person’s health status while setting premiums, a practice that sometimes made coverage unaffordable or unavailable for those in need of expensive treatment or facing a serious illness such as cancer.
- Now, about 20 million people covered through the ACA could lose their health insurance if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, among many other consequences bearing directly on the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is also running for reelection this year, has introduced a 24-page bill called the Protect Act that includes language guaranteeing coverage for preexisting conditions. Daines signed on as a co-sponsor on June 24, the day before the Justice Department filed its brief in the Supreme Court. McSally signed on in April 2019. Gardner is not listed as a co-sponsor.
- Experts say the Tillis proposal does not offer the same level of protection for preexisting conditions as the ACA, and they warn that millions of Americans could lose their health coverage if the ACA falls and the Protect Act is the only replacement.
- “Insurers before the Affordable Care Act had multiple and redundant ways that they could avoid people who had preexisting conditions,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Protect Act prevents some of those practices, but it “leaves enough other loopholes that it would make it very possible and likely for insurers to be able to avoid paying benefits for the conditions they most worry about,” she said.
- Before the ACA, an insurance company could reject an application outright, say, after reviewing a patient’s medical history. The Protect Act has language barring that practice.
- “The Protect Act inserts old HIPAA nondiscrimination language that prevents employers from varying worker premium contributions based on health status,” Pollitz said. “But the Protect Act also includes the old rule of construction that says nothing limits what the insurance company can charge the employer or individual.”
- Pollitz said the “community rating” language in the ACA provides clearer protections in this area. The Protect Act says “nothing … shall be construed to restrict the amount that an employer or individual may be charged for coverage under a group health plan.”
- “But it would leave many others on the cutting room floor,” she wrote, because insurers would be able to exclude coverage of benefits such as maternity care, mental health and substance-use treatment; set annual and lifetime limits on insurance payouts; and charge older patients more than younger patients at greater levels than the ACA allows, among other changes.
- It’s important to keep in mind that the Protect Act would not replace other parts of Obamacare, such as the online marketplaces and subsidies. Neither would it continue the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which 37 states and D.C. have now adopted. That includes Arizona, Colorado and Montana.
- Voters deserve straight answers when their health care is on the line, especially in the middle of a deadly pandemic.