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Duckworth, Durbin Join Democratic Colleagues in Fighting to Protect People With Pre-Existing Conditions in FY21 Budget | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

February 14, 2020

[WASHINGTON, D.C] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today in leading 44 other Democratic Senators in a letter to the Administration urging President Trump to direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is the law of the land and provides health care coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions including more than five million Illinoisans. Despite Trump’s misleading statements about protecting patients with pre-existing conditions, the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 proposed budget continues to fund DOJ’s efforts to repeal the ACAwhile providing no mention of a replacement plan should the DOJ prevail in court and eliminate our health law.

The Senators wrote, “We noted your announcement in the 2020 State of the Union that you would protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and we hoped that priority would be reflected in your Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.Unfortunately, your “Budget for America’s Future” does exactly the opposite… We are disappointed that the “Budget for America’s Future” continues to fund the DOJ’s legally unsound position in Texas v. United States. You could bring peace of mind to millions of Americans tomorrow by simply directing the DOJ to do its job and defend the law of the land instead of arguing against protections for people with pre-existing conditions and against access to affordable health care coverage.”

Joining Duckworth, Durbin, and Manchin on the letter were Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Angus King (I-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Martin Heinrich (D-NV), Robert Casey (D-PA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Coons (D-CT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

 February 14, 2020

Dear Mr. President:

We noted your announcement in the 2020 State of the Union that you would protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and we hoped that priority would be reflected in your Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.Unfortunately, your “Budget for America’s Future” does exactly the opposite. It fully funds the Department of Justice’s ongoing efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety through the courts, and it provides no alternative, no replacement, no hope for the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, including the 54 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who would be completely uninsurable without the basic protections provided by the ACA.

The health care laws on the books today include clear protections that prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions. Over the past six years, we have seen millions of Americans, many for the first time, gain affordable health care coverage through Medicaid expansion. This coverage expansion resulted in a major reduction in the uninsured rate, including for women and people of color, and it has also allowed Americans suffering from substance use disorders and mental illness to gain access to the treatment they need to recover. Sadly, instead of building on this progress and working together to continue to improve health care outcomes for all patients, we are having to fight our very own Department of Justice (DOJ) in court just to maintain the status quo.

We are disappointed that the “Budget for America’s Future” continues to fund the DOJ’s legally unsound position in Texas v. United States. You could bring peace of mind to millions of Americans tomorrow by simply directing the DOJ to do its job and defend the law of the land instead of arguing against protections for people with pre-existing conditions and against access to affordable health care coverage. If the health care law is repealed, nearly every American’s health care will be affected, and once again insurance companies will be allowed to put profits over patients, deciding who can and who cannot access affordable health insurance.

There is widespread recognition that simply repealing the law without a replacement would be devastating to American families and to our economy, yet the “Budget for America’s Future” makes no mention of the millions of people who would lose health care coverage should the DOJ succeed in court. Instead, it promotes the sale of short-term or “junk” health plans that threaten access to quality and affordable care for Americans with pre-existing conditions and for which insurers often refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions altogether. Already, we have heard horror stories from families nationwide unknowingly purchasing these junk plans that do not cover their pre-existing conditions. Your proposed budget refuses to withdraw these harmful regulations, which make it easier for insurance companies to discriminate against people who desperately need prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health or substance use disorder treatment.

Americans need us to work together to defend their access to quality, affordable health care. We have proven that we can improve our health care system and reduce costs when we put politics aside and people first. It is not too late to reverse course on Texas v. United States. It is not too late to work together to build on the successes of the ACA. We urge you to work with us on protecting and expanding access to affordable health care for all Americans.

Sincerely,

-30-

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