Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Sarbanes, Baltimore Congressional Delegation Highlight Trump Administration’s Threat to Marylanders with Pre-Existing Conditions

New Report Finds That Nearly 260,000 Marylanders May Lose Access to Affordable Health Insurance Coverage
October 2, 2018
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Baltimore City Health Department Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Shelly Choo and Maryland resident Barbara Gruber in releasing a new report that illustrates how Marylanders would be negatively impacted by the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“We cannot allow President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress to take us back to the days when insurance companies could openly discriminate against patients – especially women and seniors – for having a pre-existing health condition,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Every Marylander deserves fair access to affordable health care, regardless of past medical conditions. The Affordable Care Act helped get us closer to that goal, and I will continue to fight back against Republican efforts to undermine this critical, life-saving protection that all Americans deserve.”

Ranking Member Cummings stated: “Families used to go bankrupt because health insurance companies were allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Congress changed that when we required insurance companies to offer coverage to everyone regardless of their health status. They are now barred from charging higher premiums on the basis of health status, and they are prohibited from selling policies that do not cover pre-existing conditions. Women and older adults are also protected from paying higher premiums. Despite these life-saving benefits, the Trump Administration has decided to attack these critical protections, while offering nothing to replace them.”

“Because of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies cannot refuse to cover someone or charge someone more just because they have a pre-existing condition. If the Trump Administration has its way, millions of Marylanders with pre-existing conditions are at risk of losing their health coverage. We cannot allow this to happen,” said Senator Cardin. “We must keep fighting to ensure that the most vulnerable among us, including those with cancer, diabetes, or behavioral health conditions have access to quality, affordable health care.”

“I commend Congressman Cummings for clearly documenting the disastrous impact the Trump Administration’s effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act would have on Maryland families. The ACA provides critical protections for Marylanders with pre-existing health conditions – and the Trump Administration is actively lobbying a federal court to strike them down,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. “From chronic conditions like asthma to life-threatening illnesses like cancer – Marylanders with pre-existing conditions are at risk of facing sky-rocketing premiums or being denied health coverage altogether if the Trump Administration has its way. I will continue fighting these disastrous efforts and working to protect Marylanders with pre-existing conditions.”

“Americans overwhelmingly support the consumer protections afforded by the ACA because they are saving lives,” Congressman Ruppersberger said.  “If the Trump Administration has its way, insurance companies will once again be able to flatly refuse coverage and price gouge cancer survivors, the mentally ill and parents of babies with low birth rate. Even sleep apnea can be considered a preexisting condition. We will not sit idle while the Administration attempts to roll back these critical protections for American families.”

“We cannot allow President Trump and Attorney General Sessions to destroy the ACA,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Their attempts to sabotage this life-saving law would create chaos in the healthcare market and jeopardize the health of thousands of Marylanders.”  

“As an emergency physician, I have treated patients at every stage of life with pre-existing conditions – from babies born with a congenital heart defects to children with asthma to adults with high blood pressure," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. "Who among us doesn’t have a pre-existing condition? Health care is a fundamental human right. No one should be denied the right to good health based on the ability to pay or due to an illness they happen to have. I thank Congressman Cummings for leading this fight – it is literally a matter of life or death.”

At Ranking Member Cummings’ request, Democratic staff prepared a report on the threat to people in Maryland by the Trump Administration’s actions. The report estimates:

  • As many as 260,000 people in the individual market in the state may lose federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases as a result of their pre-existing health conditions, gender, or age.
  • As many as 160,000 women could be charged more than men for the same insurance coverage.
  • As many as 108,000 older Americans could face exorbitantly higher premiums, simply because of their age.
  • As many as 19,000 construction workers, 9,700 shipping clerks, and 4,800 EMTs employed in the state in higher risk occupations who currently purchase health insurance through the individual market may lose federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases.

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly three-quarters of the American people believe it is “very important” to retain these protections in the law.

See here for the report.