Cantwell to Trump: Stop Undermining Health Coverage for Millions of Washingtonians with Pre-Existing Conditions

New report shows more than 867,000 King County residents, 3 million Washingtonians statewide under the age of 65 live with a pre-existing health condition; Lawsuit by state Attorneys General threatens to undermine critical health coverage for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions

Washington, D.C. – Today at an event with patients and patient advocates, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced a new letter to President Trump demanding he stop his administration’s efforts to strike down important patient protections and undermine health care for millions of Washingtonians living with pre-existing conditions.

“We’re here today because the health care of millions of Americans is at risk, and we know that, here in Washington, people with everyday issues like asthma or diabetes could be affected by the changes that the President is calling on,” Cantwell said at today’s event. “We want these patients in the state of Washington to be protected… And that is why we are saying today, with a letter to the President: tell the Department of Justice we need to fight to cover pre-existing conditions, not stand on the sidelines or allow other AGs to fight against them.”

More than 3 million Washingtonians under the age of 65 live with a pre-existing health condition, which can include common conditions ranging from allergies, asthma, and high blood pressure to cancer and diabetes. More than 385,000 of those with pre-existing conditions are children under the age of 18.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) outlawed insurance company discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, meaning that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people or charge them more because they have a pre-existing condition. However, in February, a group of state Attorneys General sued to overturn the ACA. In June, the Trump Administration escalated its deliberate attempts to take away Americans’ health care and insurance protections when the Department of Justice announced it would not defend the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections.

“Your Administration has now taken direct action to nullify major provisions of a law that was passed by Congress, signed by the President, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Three out of four Americans support keeping pre-existing condition protections, according to a survey by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.  I urge you to listen to them and direct the Department of Justice to preserve pre-existing condition protections by reversing its actions in Texas v. HHS,” Senator Cantwell wrote to President Trump in the letter.

At the event, Senator Cantwell also released a report on the threats to health care coverage for the millions of Washingtonians under the age of 65, including more than 867,000 in King County alone, living with a pre-existing health care condition.

“Just a few years ago, people were commonly denied insurance…, and if they didn’t get a denial, they got some exorbitant rate,” Cantwell continued. “Today, we want to make sure patients are not denied access to health care just because of diabetes or asthma or some other pre-existing condition.

The stakes in the fight to protect these critical health care provisions got even higher this week when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court. President Trump now has the opportunity to provide a lifetime appointment to a justice who could undermine health care access and protections for millions of Americans.

Since President Trump’s election, Senator Cantwell has fought back against his efforts to undermine health care coverage for millions of Americans. In June of 2017, Senator Cantwell spoke on the Senate floor to condemn Republican efforts to cut billions of dollars from Medicaid. In July of 2017, she called out Republican efforts to authorize “junk” health insurance plans without coverage for essential health benefits, like hospital stays or prescription drugs. In September of 2017, Cantwell fought back against a plan to take billions of dollars from Washington state, which could have devastated coverage for hundreds of thousands of children throughout the state. And in June of this year, Senator Cantwell once again called on the Trump Administration to abandon its efforts to authorize “junk” plans and joined the entire Senate Democratic caucus to condemn President Trump’s refusal to stand with patients across the country and defend health care protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Read Senator Cantwell’s report on health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions HERE.

The full text of Senator Cantwell’s letter to President Trump is available HERE.