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Rep. Underwood's legislation advances in U.S. House

Legislation would require pre-existing condition coverage

Lauren Underwood, then a candidate for Illinois' 14th Congressional District, speaks during a Sept. 19 meeting with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board.
Lauren Underwood, then a candidate for Illinois' 14th Congressional District, speaks during a Sept. 19 meeting with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board.

Legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, to ban junk insurance plans that do not provide patients protections such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, or other essential health benefits that the Affordable Care Act requires, passed through the House on Thursday.

“As you know, in August of last year, the administration finalized a rule that expanded short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans that do not have to offer important patient protection like coverage of pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits, like maternity care, prescription drugs and hospitalization,” she said. “Prior to this rule, people could buy these plans for a short time, up to three months, but the administration changed it to three years, so these plans look more like full coverage and can trick consumers.”

Underwood said the rule was designed to “sabotage comprehensive coverage and drive up the cost of comprehensive insurance” making it harder for people to access comprehensive insurance.

Her bill overturns that rule.

“Practically speaking,” she said, “this means pregnant women or people with asthma, arthritis, depression or a heart condition like me could no longer be discriminated against and denied health care.”

As someone who has lived with a pre-existing condition since she was 8 years old, Underwood remains committed to protecting those with similar circumstances, she said.

“In Illinois’ 14th District, I’m one of 300,000 people who have a pre-existing condition, so the fight for health care is personal,” Underwood said. “No person in this country should be denied insurance coverage as a result of a pre-existing condition. Americans deserve quality and affordable health care.”

House Resolution 1010, which was combined with other bills – including two Underwood co-sponsored – passed by a 234-183 margin, although the odds of them surviving in the Senate and ultimately being signed by President Donald Trump are minuscule.

Underwood said one of the other pieces of legislation that passed in the House would stop pharmaceutical companies from denying generic drugmakers access to samples so they can receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The third would crack down on the “shady payments drug companies use to extend their monopoly by paying generic drugmakers to keep their cheaper drugs off the market,” she said.

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