Congressional Dems filing bill requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) plan to file a bill that would require health plans to cover the more than 133 million Americans suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Right now, health plans estimate that they currently spend about $2.2 billion per year--or more than 75 percent of all moneys spent on healthcare--to treat patients with multiple chronic conditions. The legislators contend that by insuring everyone, that number would deflate somewhat. (In theory, one would guess that by spreading the risk to this broader population, it could help health plans cope with costs.)

The issue of covering people with pre-existing conditions has gotten a higher profile of late, particularly with California health plans facing legal troubles over excluding or dropping patients with serious health problems. The scuffle over this issue prompted the health insurance industry's leading group to concede that they'd consider waiving pre-existing conditions as a bar to coverage, as long as everyone ends up being covered. Still, that doesn't mean this bill will fly. (My guess--the measure's still a long shot anyway.)

To find out more about the bill:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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