Top Nevada Health Exchange Official: Heller Bill Gives Illusion of Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions

This week, Nevada’s top health insurance exchange official slammed Sen. Dean Heller’s sham pre-existing conditions bill for falling short of current law and failing to require care for pre-existing conditions.

Heather Korbulic, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, joined other health care experts in criticizing the bill, agreeing with the assessment that the bill’s attempt to provide protections for those with pre-existing conditions is “something of a mirage” because it does not retain a key ACA provision being challenged in court.

Heller signed onto the sham GOP legislation last week, after months of silence regarding the Republican lawsuit working to overturn the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing conditions provisions in federal court. The Heller-backed bill would undermine current coverage protections for consumers, by allowing insurers to pick and choose how they cover treatment for people with pre-existing conditions.

Rosen for Nevada spokesperson Molly Forgey released the following statement:

“Nevada’s health care officials are once again sounding the alarm on Senator Heller’s partisan health care agenda and his plan that falls short of current law when it comes to consumer protections for pre-existing conditions. While Jacky Rosen is committed to defending the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, Senator Heller is trying to make up for months of inaction and spinelessness with a sham bill because there’s an election around the corner.”

Las Vegas Sun: Health exchange head says Heller bill gives illusion of protecting pre-existing conditions

By Yvonne Gonzalez

August 30, 2018

Key points:

  • A Republican Senate bill that seeks to bolster protections for patients with pre-existing conditions falls short of current law, said Nevada’s health insurance exchange leader.
  • Nevada’s Republican Sen. Dean Heller is co-sponsoring a bill that requires coverage but not care for pre-existing conditions, said Heather Korbulic, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.
  • These provisions of the Affordable Care Act are at risk under a federal lawsuit, and Democrats in Congress have introduced resolutions to allow House and Senate legal counsel to defend the law in court.
  • “It would have dramatic impacts on the whole country,” Korbulic said of the lawsuit. “We would go back to pre-ACA rules where you could again do medical underwriting based on pre-existing conditions — not everybody would be guaranteed a community rating, meaning they could have varied premium cost based on their health conditions, and many people would find themselves priced out of the market.”
  • Korbulic said she agrees with Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, who called the bill’s attempts to provide protections for these patients “something of a mirage” because the legislation does not retain a key ACA provision being challenged in court.
  • The lawsuit seeks to eliminate an ACA change to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that prevents excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions in health insurance plans, Korbulic said. The bill Heller is co-sponsoring fails to address that, which would be eliminated if the lawsuit is successful.
  • “For instance, if you have brain cancer, an insurance company cannot deny your application because you have brain cancer, but they can certainly say that they don’t cover that brain cancer treatment,” Korbulic said of the bill. “They would exclude that pre-existing condition from coverage.”
  • “If the federal regulations are gone, then that’s gone for us too,” Korbulic said.
  • “Refusing to defend the existing law could take us back to the days when insurance companies could discriminate against people for everything from battling cancer to being pregnant,” Rosen said in a statement at the time.