COLUMBIA, Mo. — Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board warned Republicans not to “underestimate the power of [the health care] issue to sway votes this fall,” highlighting in particular the popularity of provisions that require insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions. According to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “84 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents and 59 percent of Republicans favored” protecting those with pre-existing conditions.
Despite this bipartisan support, Josh Hawley and 19 other Republican attorneys general have filed a lawsuit that would make requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions unconstitutional. Missouri is among the top 11 states with the highest levels of adults with pre-existing conditions, and Hawley’s lawsuit could strip coverage from nearly 2.5 million Missourians.
Polls continue to show that the health care issue, despite being crowded out of the news by immigration, tariffs, North Korea and Trump administration scandals, remains near the top of voters’ concerns. Republican candidates would be wise not to underestimate the power of this issue to sway votes this fall. Among major items of concern:
- Two weeks ago, the Trump administration’s Justice Department told a federal court that it would no longer enforce key parts of the Affordable Care Act that require insurance companies selling plans on the Healthcare.gov marketplace to cover consumers with pre-existing conditions. This decision also could affect the 160 million Americans covered by employer-sponsored health care plans, who could be free to resume charging higher premiums or imposing waiting periods for coverage of pre-existing conditions.
…One of Obamacare’s most popular provisions says that the 52 million non-elderly American adults with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage or charged more for it. In a 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 84 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents and 59 percent of Republicans favored guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.
However, the tax-cut bill enacted in December eliminated Obamacare’s penalty for failing to purchase health insurance. The end of the so-called individual mandate caused 20 Republican state attorneys general to again challenge the overall constitutionality of Obamacare’s consumer protections, including coverage of pre-existing conditions. The Justice Department chimed in to agree.
…Voters with pre-existing conditions might want to factor it into their decisions in November.