HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, February 22, 2008

No Discrimination in Health Insurance Act

Today, DemFromCt writing at  Daily Kos notes that Representative Kagan (D-WI) has introduced new legislation to end discrimination in health care coverage.  The author states,

Now, Rep. Kagen has introduced something else to the discussion: legislation that alters the "pre-existing condition" concept.

Our Constitution protects every citizen against discrimination, the result of long and hard-won gains by ordinary people who for decades showed extraordinary courage fighting for change. Applying these fundamental gains to our health care system is the right thing to do, because my patients and my constituents cannot hold their breath any longer.

That's why I've introduced the No Discrimination in Health Insurance Act. This essential legislation will guarantee access to affordable care for every citizen in America by bringing an end to discriminatory practices employed by insurance companies who deny life-saving coverage to millions of Americans solely because of their pre-existing medical conditions.

The grim reality is our Constitution does protect you against discrimination, until you become ill. Well, my legislation puts discrimination where it belongs -- in the past.

More description of the bill directly from Kagen:

The essential elements of this necessary legislation are: (1) No Discrimination due to pre-existing conditions, (2) Open Disclosure of all prices, and (3) Every Citizen is allowed to Pay the Lowest Price available. These ideas must be included in any successful comprehensive health care reform legislation.

At this very early step in the process, I am pleased to have the encouragement and support of many of my freshman colleagues, AFSCME and Families USA. I am looking forward to presenting this bill and these ideas in a Congressional hearing this spring.

Surely, the insurance companies will oppose this. But first, Kagen's bill need to pass Ways and Means and make it out of committee before further action is taken. The bill is HR 5449 and like other health care bills from SCHIP to the Langevin-Shays universal health care bill, it may or may not go anywhere in an election year. Sometimes, these bills are little more than posturing. Chris Shays is the last House R in New England, and the CT-04 Republican survives by talking like a moderate in even-numbered years; Jim Langevin, the Democrat from RI-02, has introduced this bill before though this is the first time Shays has signed on).

DemFromCt has further information on the politics of this bill and how health care reform has definitely made it to the frontburner of many people's legislative agenda.

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