SEARCH

Entries in Pre-Existing Conditions (2)

Thursday
Oct112012

Romney Appears to Refine Position on Pre-existing Conditions

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney appears to have altered his position on the Obamacare ban on denying insurance to people with pre-existing conditions in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch editorial board.

“You have to deal with those people who are currently uninsured, and help them have the opportunity to have insurance,” said Romney, according to the paper.

“But then once people have all had that opportunity to become insured, if someone chooses not to become insured, and waits for 10 or 20 years and then gets ill and then says, ‘Now I want insurance,’ you could hardly say to an insurance company, ‘Oh, you must take this person now that they’re sick,’ or there’d literally be no reason to have insurance.”

In the same interview with the Dispatch, he also argued that not having insurance does not in itself lead to deaths.

“We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack,’” Romney said. “Instead you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”

Romney’s reference to a “choice” with regard to pre-existing conditions and his inclusion of giving opportunity to people “who are currently uninsured” would seem to contradict earlier statements from Romney and his own website, which suggest no ban on pre-existing conditions should be extended for people who don’t currently have insurance. A full transcript of the interview has not yet been posted by the Dispatch. The Romney campaign has not responded to a request for comment.

There were approximately 49 million non-elderly uninsured Americans in 2010, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report that utilized U.S. Census data. More than 70 percent of those have gone without insurance for a year or more, according to the report.

Here’s what it says on Mitt Romney’s website about pre-existing conditions: “Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.”

That has been taken to suggest that he favors a ban on insurance companies discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions, but not for people who are currently uninsured. “Continuous coverage” generally means three months, so presumably a three-month gap is allowed.

Romney has backed this assessment up, most notably in an interview during the GOP primary this spring with Jay Leno, when Romney was careful to stipulate that someone would need to have had insurance. “People who have done their best to be insured are going to be covered,” said Romney.

“If they are 45 years old, and they show up and say, ‘I want insurance because I have heart disease,’ it’s like, ‘Hey, guys. We can’t play the game like that,’” Romney told Jay Leno during a March appearance on the Tonight Show.  "You’ve got to get insurance when you are well, and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered."

“People who have been continuously insured, let’s say someone’s had a job for a while and been insured, then they get real sick and they happen to lose a job, or change jobs, they find, ‘Gosh, I got a pre-existing condition. I can’t get insured,’ I’d say no, no, no.  People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have insurance,” he said.

In the presidential debate last week, Romney said, “I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions,” but he did not elaborate.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

Fact Check: Mitt Romney on ‘Obamacare’ and Pre-Existing Conditions

JD Pooley/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney said Sunday he doesn’t want to get rid of all of “Obamacare,” a statement that at first seemed to indicate he’d softened his position on President Obama’s health care law.

“Well, I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform,” Romney said on NBC’s Meet the Press. "Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place.  One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.  Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.  I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.”

But the Romney campaign later confirmed that the GOP candidate had not changed his position on coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies have covered people with pre-existing conditions as long as they had continuous health care coverage.

The Affordable Care Act, on the other hand, created special health care plans in 2010 for people who have pre-existing conditions, and by 2014 it will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition.

It is not a small population who would be cut from health care coverage under a proposal similar to what Romney has suggested. A Health and Human Services report, published in January 2011, estimated that between 50 million and 129 million people currently have a pre-existing condition in the eyes of  insurance companies. Twenty-five million of those do not have health insurance, according to the report.  That number does not take into account those who have had gaps in coverage, suggesting a much larger number of people have pre-existing conditions but have not had continuous coverage.

Those gaps would be important under Romney. Earlier this year, Romney suggested that people with pre-existing conditions who didn’t already have health insurance shouldn’t get any special treatment.

“If they are 45 years old, and they show up and say, ‘I want insurance because I have heart disease,’ it’s like, ‘Hey guys. We can’t play the game like that,’” Romney told Jay Leno during a March appearance on The Tonight Show.  "You’ve got to get insurance when you are well, and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered."

“People who have been continuously insured, let’s say someone’s had a job for a while and been insured, then they get real sick and they happen to lose a job, or change jobs, they find, ‘Gosh, I got a pre-existing condition. I can’t get insured,’ I’d say no, no, no.  People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have insurance,” he said.

On the day the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Romney said his plan would let people with pre-existing conditions “know they will be able to be insured and will not lose their insurance,” but he did not address what happens to those who have pre-existing conditions but no health insurance.

His campaign has not been more specific about Romney’s health care plan, nor does his website go into detail.

The website lists as one of his priorities: “Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.”

Continuous coverage generally means having nonstop coverage.  Gaps of no more than 63 days can be allowed when changing insurance companies.

But as the Washington Post pointed out, people who have health insurance and a pre-existing condition are largely protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, which was enacted in 1996, and limits how employer-sponsored plans can deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and how far back they can search for them.

“Under current laws there are strong protections on pre-existing conditions if you’re going into a group plan,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “There are some protections on pre-existing conditions if you’re going onto the individual market,” she said.

Many group health insurers have stopped denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions altogether rather than parse through HIPPA’s requirements. And for people without group or employer-sponsored coverage, many states have high-risk pools that provide insurance to those with pre-existing conditions. But the cost is often prohibitive.

The Affordable Care Act created a new $5 billion high-risk pool that has provided insurance. It has covered 77,000 people, still a small fraction of the uninsured who have pre-existing conditions.

The full ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions goes into effect in 2014, along with controls on how much more insurance companies can charge those who have pre-existing conditions.

But some people look at that generally low enrollment in the state and federal high-risk pools and wonder if the number of uninsured with pre-existing conditions is as large as 25 million.

It’s like saying everyone who lives on the Gulf Coast is at risk of dying whenever there is a hurricane, said Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Haislmaier does not know what, specifically, Romney would suggest to fix the problem of uninsured people with pre-existing conditions.

But Haislmaier has written extensively on the subject, and said the best way to do it would be to extend the HIPPA protections to the rest of the insurance market, which he said have worked for people in employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

The flaw was that Congress didn’t extend those HIPPA protections to the individual market, Haislmaier believes.  "That’s what the conservative solution would be,” he said. “Some reasonable changes to the rules, which are essentially finishing what was left undone when you fixed 90 percent.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio