The March 31 letter, “Agreement is reason to celebrate,” mistakenly asserted that congressional Republicans agree with Democrats — and the majority of citizens — on retaining three consumer protections in the Afordable Care Act.
In truth, there is no bipartisan agreement on covering children to age 26 on parents’ policies, prohibiting lifetime caps, and forbidding discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. Everyone should know that Rep. Glenn Thompson co-sponsored legislation in 2015 repealing all three protections. The bill was authored by Tom Price, who is now secretary of Health and Human Services.
The truth is that plenty of Republicans wanted to repeal these popular and humane protections in the special bill that failed a couple weeks ago, but they couldn’t. As a “budget reconciliation” bill, that legislation could be passed with simple majorities in both House and Senate, with no need for 60 Senate votes to overcome a filibuster. However, because reconciliation is limited to taxes and expenditures affecting the budget, congressional rules prevented the failed bill from repealing consumer protections related to private health insurance.
The three protections are not safe. They can still be diluted through administrative actions or repealed with legislation enacted over a Democratic filibuster. Just as President Donald Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency administrator are eliminating environmental protections through administrative orders, Trump and Secretary Price will roll back rules protecting patients against insurer abuses that were common before the ACA.
Teresa Welch, Bellefonte