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Underwood's legislation to ban 'junk insurance' plans passes in U.S. House

Bill would force insurers to provide prescription drug and pre-existing conditions coverage, maternity care

Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, 14th Congressional District representative
Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, 14th Congressional District representative

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s (D-Naperville) legislation to ban junk insurance plans that do not afford patients with protections such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, or other essential health benefits that the Affordable Care Act requires, passed on May 16.

“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 explained that 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 eight years old, Underwood remains committed to protecting those with similar circumstances.

“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.”

The legislation, (H.R. 1010), which was wrapped with other bills, including two bills Underwood co-sponsored, passed by a 234-183 margin, although odds of them surviving in the Senate and ultimately being signed by President Donald Trump are minuscule.

Underwood acknowledged that the other legislation that passed would stop drug companies from denying generic makers access to samples so they could get FDA approval and another would crack down on the “shady payments drug companies use to extend their monopoly by paying generic drug makers to keep their cheaper drugs off the market.”

“Since day one I’ve been hearing from our communities that prescription drug prices are out of control and people with pre-existing conditions deserve protection,” she said. “I’m so proud to have advanced legislation to make more generic drugs available.”

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