Email #97, Subject: pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits?

When you wrote to me last month about the new ACA replacement bill, you said: “This plan notably includes proposals to protect access to coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, allows dependents under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ plans, and removes lifetime limits on coverage.”

But now I read that the bill would allow insurers to raises their prices for people with pre-existing conditions. In what sense does that “protect access”? The ACA eliminated the whole concept of pre-existing conditions, but the GOP bill would bring it back so that companies can charge 30% higher premiums.

Worse, the new bill would allow insurers to set lifetime limits—even though you said before it would not. Under the ACA, insurers can’t set arbitrary caps and so abandon the people who most need health care, those with terrible, long-term diseases.  The new bill would reinstate that immoral practice.

When I called your office to ask about this last Friday, your staffer told me that you had not taken a position on the new health care bill yet and were still reviewing it. Since it violates two of your stated priorities, may I assume that you will not be voting for it? Otherwise your letter highlighting the importance of pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps was meaningless.

Since it was a form letter, I assume you sent copies to all of your constituents who contacted your office about Obamacare in the last several weeks. Given the historic surge in calls and letters to Congress this year, I can only imagine how may people that is. It would be especially disturbing then if you contradicted your own letter now that we can all see the deep shortcomings of the GOP replacement bill.

Since the weekend must have given you ample time to complete your review of the American Health Care Act, I look forward to your next press release announcing your disapproval. All of your constituents trust you to stand by your words and permanently eliminate pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

2 thoughts on “Email #97, Subject: pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits?”

  1. Chris – Bob sent me the bill and invited me to read it (Ha ha!), but I’ve spent some time this weekend analyzing various reviews (Kaiser, HealthBlog, Brookings, etc.) and my understanding is that it keeps the prohibition on lifetime limits. Am I not understanding this correctly? Thanks!


    1. Thanks, Scott. I just went back to the website I pulled that information from:

      I read it back on March 6, before the full text of the American Health Care Act was available, and it implied (or I inferred) that limits would no longer be prohibited:

      “Other protections, including the ban on discriminating people with pre-existing conditions and the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan through age 26, would survive.”

      But now I see that you’re right; happily, the new bill does continue Obamacare’s ending of lifetime limits.

      So thanks for the correction, Scott, and, Mr. Goodlatte, if you’re reading this, I apologize for getting my facts wrong.


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