Congressman Cohen Votes to Protect Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions

May 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON -- Today, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) voted for and the House passed H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, to block the Trump Administration’s dangerous October 2018 guidance that gives states the ability to weaken the Affordable Care Act’s critical protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. The vote was 230 to 183.

“The Trump Administration’s guidance represents a serious threat to the continued health and economic stability of countless hard-working Memphis families, particularly those with pre-existing conditions,” said Congressman Cohen.  “I’m pleased to join my colleagues in passing this critical legislation to reverse the Trump Administration’s damaging, dangerous guidance, and reinforce the lifesaving benefits that protect Memphians and Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

On October 22, 2018, the Trump Administration issued the new guidance allowing states to promote insurance plans that discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and do not cover essential benefits.  A coalition of 29 leading patient and health care advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, has expressed strong opposition to the Administration’s guidance, stating that, “This dangerous action could take us back to the days when people with pre-existing conditions were openly discriminated against and blatantly denied access to lifesaving care.”

The Administration’s guidance undermines the stability of the health care market and allows states to promote so-called junk “short-term, limited-duration” insurance options that directly discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.  Unlike ACA plans, these junk plans can eliminate coverage of pre-existing conditions, charge premiums based on health status, or reject patients altogether.  The Administration’s guidance even goes so far as to allow states to use federal taxpayer dollars to subsidize the purchase of these junk plans.

There are an estimated 2,718,800 Tennesseans living with pre-existing conditions, including 297,100 non-elderly people in the 9th Congressional District. 

On Wednesday, the House passed two bipartisan bills to reduce the price of prescription drugs by removing barriers to more affordable generic versions of brand-name drugs coming to market, H.R 1503 and H.R. 1520.