With the Justice Department refusing to defend protections for those with pre-existing conditions, the Trump Administration releasing a new rule providing junk insurance and a new push for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) says now is the time to approve legislation allowing Americans to buy into Medicare early.  

Higgins is the lead sponsor of the Medicare Buy In and Health Care Stabilization Act (H.R. 3748), legislation that offers Americans ages 50 to 64 the option to buy into Medicare early, providing a proven public option and providing older Americans an affordable option. Higgins argues the move would leverage the purchasing power of millions of people to deliver better care at lower costs. 

Currently 1 in 5 Americans are covered under Medicare and the majority of Medicare recipients report high satisfaction rates with their coverage.  In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports on the cost-effective nature of the program, “Administrative costs in 2015 were about 2.0 percent, 1.1 percent, and 0.4 percent of expenditures for Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (physician coverage), and Part D (drug coverage), respectively.”

Higgins recently spoke about the Administration’s attack on protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions on the House Floor:

(To access video click above or go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLXC0uocQIA)

“Mr. Speaker, the Justice Department said last week to a federal court that it will not defend against efforts to dismantle the individual market and protections for pre-existing conditions of the health care law.

“Mr. Speaker, the 50 to 64 demographic of America that buys health insurance on the exchanges is about to get clobbered with 30 to 40% premium increases and no protection against denial for pre-existing conditions. 

“The 60 million people between the ages of 50 and 64 need the protection of Medicare now, by allowing them to buy into the program to give them medical coverage.  Medicare is fully compliant with the Affordable Care Act and Medicare always covers pre-existing conditions. 

“Medicare is the best healthcare insurance and it is the best public option that already exists.  Let’s make that accessible to the people who are age 50 to 64.”  

Over 8.3 million people in New York under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions, the third highest in the country, behind California and Texas, with more than 288,000 in Congressman Higgins’ district alone.   In total approximately 133 million Americans have pre-existing conditions. 

Age

People with Pre-existing Conditions in NY-26

People with Pre-existing Conditions in NYS

Birth to 17 years

36,300

1,006,000

18 – 24

28,200

712,600

25 – 34

48,800

1,307,700

35 – 44

42,500

1,441,800

45 – 54

61,800

1,982,700

55 – 64

71,200

1,948,200

Total Non-Elderly with Pre-Existing Conditions

288,700

8,398,900

Percent of Non-Elderly with Pre-Existing Conditions

50 %

51%

 

*Source: Center for American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/news/2017/04/05/430059/number-americans-pre-existing-conditions-congressional-district/

President Trump’s first executive order began the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.  After a full repeal of the healthcare law failed to gain Congressional approval, the Administration continued its attack on coverage with a repeal of the requirement that people maintain health insurance, a move the Congressional Budget Office said will increase premiums by 10% and increase the number of uninsured by 13 million people over the next 10 years. 

This week the Administration released a final rule, first announced by executive order on October 12, 2017, to allow for the creation of health insurance plans that don’t include many of the consumer protection requirements under the Affordable Care Act, such as coverage for essential health benefits, which include mental health care emergency services, prescription drug coverage as well as maternity and newborn care.  While these plans may be cheaper for some, it will drive up costs in the entire healthcare system, and leave people with limited coverage when they really need it. 

Meanwhile a new proposal by conservatives aims again at repealing the Affordable Care Act entirely.