Kuster Highlights Granite Stater Bodhi Bhattarai at Hearing on Pre-Existing Conditions, Underscores Importance of Her Legislation to Protect Americans from Junk Health Plans
**Kuster also underscored the potential for Trump Administration’s guidance to increase healthcare costs for Americans, deny coverage for individuals with substance use disorder**
Washington, DC, February 13, 2019
Congresswoman Kuster’s full Q&A is available HERE
Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, highlighted the story of Bodhi Bhattarai of Contoocook, New Hampshire at today’s hearing, “Strengthening Our Health Care System: Legislation to Reverse ACA Sabotage and Ensure Pre-Existing Conditions Protections.” Kuster underscored the importance of ensuring protections for individuals, like Bodhi, who have a pre-existing medical condition. Bodhi was diagnosed at the age of two with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Last week, Kuster introduced the Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act (HR 986) with Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08) and Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), which would revoke Section 1332 guidance released by the Trump Administration’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on October 22, 2018. That guidance weakened protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
“It’s outrageous that the Trump Administration would issue guidance that will threaten protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions – people like my young friend Bodhi,” said Kuster. “Bodhi has spinal muscular atrophy – his condition necessitates a wheelchair for his mobility. Thanks to the ACA, there is no longer a broad-based exclusion to wheelchairs, or to all the other affordable healthcare that helps Bodhi lead a fulfilling life. But those protections have been threatened by guidance issued by President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services. My legislation would rescind that guidance and maintain protections for Bodhi and the millions of other Americans who have a pre-existing condition. I look forward to continuing to strengthen the ACA and improve access to affordable healthcare for people in New Hampshire and across the country.”
Kuster’s questioning of Katie Keith, JD, MPH, Associate Research Professor and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, confirmed that the Administration’s Section 1332 guidance could increase healthcare costs, jeopardize protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, allow insurers to retroactively deny coverage once care is needed, and deny coverage for substance abuse treatment.
“It’s shocking that the Trump Administration wants to roll back the clock on so many of the protections that the American people support in the Affordable Care Act,” said Kuster. “In New Hampshire, coverage for substance abuse treatment has been critical as we’ve combated the opioid epidemic and the guidance by the Trump Administration allows insurers to deny access to such critical care. I’m committed to working to lower costs for all Americans and preventing partisan attacks on the ACA to allow health insurers to go back to the days of free reign over the care of all Americans.”
Kuster has focused on working across the aisle to improve the Affordable Care Act. She unveiled proposals to address the cost of healthcare and stabilize the individual marketplace and has pushed back against partisan efforts to undermine the ACA.