Senate Democrats

Democratic Senators, Health Care Advocates Discuss Importance Of Ending Bad Insurance Company Practices To Protect Consumers

Washington, DC— Democratic Steering Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and Senators Jeff Merkley and Mark Begich joined Jim Guest, President of the Consumers Union; Georgeanne Koehler, a woman from Pennsylvania who lost her brother after he was denied health insurance; and Zikia T. Jones-Martin, a Howard University student whose mother was denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, at a press conference this morning. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will finally put an end to insurance industry abuses that have denied coverage to hard working Americans when they get sick and need it the most.

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not only allow families and small businesses to pool together, so they are able to purchase more affordable health insurance, they will also receive important protections,” said Senator Stabenow. “Every individual and small business that purchases insurance in the new exchange or purchases a policy after the new law takes effect will get a health care ‘bill of rights.’ A person will not get dropped if he or she gets sick or injured, will be able to buy insurance with a pre-existing condition, and receive preventive care without additional costs. These are just a few of the rights families will have under health insurance reform which will end business as usual for insurance companies.”

Senator Merkley said: “For too long, Americans have been at the mercy of unfair insurance company practices.  Insurers had all the power to deny coverage, drop coverage, raise premiums sky-high or limit care.  All the power has been on the side of the insurer.  Health care reform puts fair opportunities in the hands of American citizens by ending these abusive practices.”

“Alaskans already face challenges when seeking health care due to limited accessibility and the high cost of care,” said Senator Begich. “Over the years this adversity has been compounded by shameful insurance company practices, such as denying care due to preexisting conditions and imposing lifetime limits on coverage. Health care reform will end these practices and help insured Alaskans by ensuring access to affordable health care when they need it most.”

Jim Guest said: “Individual and small business health insurance is a consumer nightmare. The policies are confusing and full of legal loopholes that leave consumers vulnerable when they are sick and most in need of help.  The health reform bill before the Senate will at long last help bring transparency and rationality to this chaotic marketplace and give consumers a fair shake.”

"If our country had health care reform, including a public option and coverage for my brother’s pre-existing condition, our family wouldn’t have an empty chair this year at our Christmas table," said Georgeanne Koehler.

Zikia Jones-Martin said: "My mother died from breast cancer because the insurance companies would not insure her, they considered it a pre-exisiting condition.  For years I have been battling the Health Care system, and I hope that the Senate will pass a bill to eliminate people from not being insured due to illnesses or pre-exisiting conditions. I would not want another family to lose their mother or a family member because of this unfair system."