Dems’ ‘Health Care Bill of Rights’ Fights Back Against GOP Cuts

Proposal protects families from escalating costs, loss of coverage
Monday, May 22, 2017

LANSING — State House and Senate Democrats announced a “Health Care Bill of Rights” today to resist Congressional Republican health care cuts that have already passed the U.S. House. The Democratic resolution would shield hundreds of thousands of Michigan families who stand to see their costs skyrocket, coverage reduced or health insurance disappear altogether. The last Congressional Budget Office estimate found that 24 million Americans would lose health insurance under the Republican plan.

The Michigan Democrats’ Health Care Bill of Rights blocks the most toxic parts of the proposed Republican health care plan, should it be passed into law. It ensures that people with pre-existing conditions won’t lose vital protections and that seniors who aren’t eligible for Medicare won’t see changes that would force them to pay five times more. The plan also protects people with employer-based health insurance from drastic rate increases and coverage caps.

“Michigan seniors and working families are alarmed by the chaos coming out of Washington, D.C., and are outraged by the Republican assault on their health care,” said House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). “If they succeed, the Republican plan will force older Americans to pay five times more and jeopardize coverage for people with pre-existing conditions like cancer or diabetes. Our Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights will protect Michigan families from the Republican assault on their health care. We call on House Republicans to denounce Trumpcare and its reckless rate increases and coverage cuts.”

“Health care has been one of the issues I’ve heard my constituents speak about most frequently during the past four years, whether it was improving breast cancer care or the quality of care for residents at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans,” state Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said. “Now that Republicans in Washington, D.C., are working to dismantle our health care system, I am hearing from families who are panicked that they will lose access to their doctors, prescription drugs and other medical care. We must take action now to preserve their health care, and that is what the Health Care Bill of Rights is all about.”

The Democrats’ Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights keeps critical parts of the Affordable Care Act in place in the state in the event that national Republicans succeed in passing the American Health Care Act. Democrats will be introducing a resolution this week. The plan would:

  • Protect People with Pre-existing Conditions: The Health Care Bill of Rights prevents people with pre-existing conditions from losing their protections, as is the case under the ACA. Republicans have proposed getting rid of or reducing essential health benefits, which includes pre-existing conditions like cancer or asthma. Republicans have also proposed allowing insurers to impose drastic increases in rates on those with pre-existing conditions and penalize them for gaps in coverage.
  • Stop the Republican ‘Age Tax:’ Seniors and older people who aren’t eligible for Medicare are protected by banning insurance companies from increasing their rates. Under the GOP’s plan, seniors would be forced to pay five times more than what other people pay. Millions of people would also lose tax credits, causing their rates to skyrocket even more.
  • Prevent Massive Rate Hikes: The Health Care Bill of Rights stops insurance companies from being able to raise the rates of people who get sick and need treatment or add coverage caps, which leave people with massive out-of-pocket costs. 
  • Protect Essential Health Benefits: Insurance companies won’t be able to deny Michiganders coverage for maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, substance abuse services, preventive care, pediatric services, hospitalization, and emergency services.
  • Prevent Annual or Lifetime Health Care Coverage Caps: Insurance companies will not be allowed to impose coverage caps, forcing many people, even those with employer-based health insurance, into bankruptcy in order to get treatments they need.

“My son, Alex, was diagnosed with cancer at age 23. If it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act, I don’t think he would be alive today. But now he has a pre-existing condition. Under the Republicans’ health plan, Alex would no longer be guaranteed coverage and could have his health care rates soar to the point he can no longer afford insurance. For a cancer survivor, that can be a death sentence. I will support any effort in Michigan that will help protect people like my son from this immoral bill,” said Ed Weberman of White Lake.

“I’m 60 years old, and right now, I have health care that I can actually afford. All that would change thanks to the Republican age tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge me five times more just because of my age. The Republicans want to make it way too expensive for people like me to keep their health insurance or cut coverage so it’s meaningless. That may benefit insurance company profits, but it doesn’t help people that need affordable health care. Michigan needs a plan to protect its people from disastrous ideas like these,” said Garrett Clinard, 60, from Ingham County.

Democrats will also fight back against the Republican plan to cut almost $1 trillion from Medicaid, which would strip hundreds of thousands of Michiganders of health insurance. Such cuts could also force the closure of rural hospitals across Michigan, leading to job loss as well as a reduction in coverage in care, and forcing area residents to drive excessively long distances for emergency care.

“These Republican health care cuts would take us back to the bad old days when people were one illness away from bankruptcy and losing everything,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint). “The bottom line is that the Republican cuts put lives at risk and punish people with pre-existing conditions like cancer and diabetes.  Democrats will do everything we can to protect Michigan seniors and hardworking families and the health care they depend on. Our Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights does just that.”

Michigan Democrats have launched a new website for people to get involved at ProtectMIHealthCare.com.