California leads the way again when it comes to making health care progress! This week, the state has officially passed two bills that require health insurance companies to provide coverage to those with a pre-existing condition, and they must be given a plan with essential benefits. Previously in California, and currently in other states, state law allows many insurance companies to refuse to sell someone a plan if they have a pre-existing condition.
These conditions can include chronic conditions such as acne, allergies, asthma, diabetes, mental illness, and injuries. Insurance companies have also qualified pregnancy and hazardous occupations like firefighting as pre-existing conditions. Some insurance companies will provide these individuals with a policy, but they avoid giving coverage for their qualifying condition, and can even permanently excuse themselves from paying for their care.
According to health care reform, these restrictions must be eliminated, so that everyone can have access to, and be able to pay for, the health services they need. Because those with pre-existing conditions are viewed as a danger to health insurance companies, seen as potentially very expensive, this is not a favorable idea to many.
The Senate passed the bills SB 961 and AB 1461, but with a bit of controversy and argument from one of the Republican senate members, who claimed they should wait until the Supreme Court ruling on the ACA. Luckily, the majority overlooked the criticism and voted for moving forward in health care. Sen. Ed Hernandez, who authored SB 961, replied to skepticism of immense financial loss, and the “what if” of the ACA being turned down, by saying :
“‘…I would hope that the court would not overturn any of it,’ Hernandez said. ‘The United States of America is the only industrialized country in the world that does not provide health care for its citizens. If any or all of it is overturned, we would go back decades, and I think it would be a travesty.’
If parts of the ACA are overturned, he said, it’s important for California to be in a position to implement its vision of health care, under whatever the federal parameters might be.”