URGENT: Continued Action Needed on Health Care Reform

2/24/17

Messages from concerned advocates around the country about patient protections are getting through to Members of Congress and their staff. Thanks to all of you who responded to our earlier Action Alert!

Next week and the weeks following are very critical! Congress returns from its President’s Day recess and will start to consider repeal/replace legislation. The plan put forth last week by House leaders relies primarily on health savings accounts, risk pools, tax credits, and Medicaid reform as a replacement for viable health insurance coverage under existing law. All of these proposals fall short of the needs of patients with chronic health conditions.

While the authors of the House legislation promise coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, they have not featured the fact that their plan includes a significant “continuous coverage” provision which would require an individual with a pre-existing condition to have continuous insurance coverage for 18-24 months before that person’s condition could be covered. This requirement could spell health and/or financial disaster for many patients who can’t afford to pay for their medical treatments without the help of insurance and can’t do without their treatment.

Below is an Action Alert and we are asking for your continued help on this important issue.  Please help us by calling your Members of Congress.

ACTION ALERT:
Please contact your two Senators and your House Representative to further educate them about the unique needs of patients with chronic conditions during the ongoing debate over healthcare reform and patient protections

Background:

Constituent outreach in support of the “four pillars” of patient protection is getting the attention of many Members of Congress as they consider how to advance changes to the healthcare system. Numerous proposals are taking shape, however, the serious proposals currently before Congress still fall short of addressing the needs of patients with chronic and complex medical conditions.

When Congress returns from the President’s Day recess the week of February 27th, key House of Representatives committees will begin consideration of the Affordable Care Act repeal and replace legislation. Legislators must continue to hear about the importance of maintaining equitable coverage and adequate access to insurance, physicians, and therapies.  

The plan put forth last week by House leaders relies primarily on health savings accounts, risk pools, tax credits, and Medicaid reform as a replacement for viable health insurance coverage under existing law.

While the authors of the legislation promise coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, they have not featured the fact that their plan includes a significant “continuous coverage” provision which would require an individual with a pre-existing condition to have continuous insurance coverage for 18-24 months before that person’s condition could be covered. This requirement could spell health and/or financial disaster for many patients who can’t afford to pay for their medical treatments without the help of insurance and can’t do without their treatment.

At this critical time, please educate legislators about your condition and your unique healthcare needs to ensure they have the knowledge necessary to advance acceptable proposals. Further, please reiterate the importance of the “four pillars” of patient protection when you reach out to the offices of your Senators and House Representative.  

Take Action:

•    Secure the contact information for your two Senators and one Representative by visiting www.Senate.gov and www.House.gov and using the “Find Your Senator/Representative” query tool in the upper right corner.

•    Call the office and ask for the Health Legislative Assistant. You can either leave a voicemail or request their e-mail address and send them a message using the template below.

•    Politely and occasionally follow up on the request. You should have an expectation that the office will respond to your specific concerns.

•    If you would like to do more, you can request a brief meeting with the staff at your members’ local offices (the location information is on their websites).

Dear _______,

My name is [your name] and I am a constituent from [hometown], as well as an advocate for the community of individuals impacted by dystonia. I write you today to express my concern over the current proposals to reform healthcare because they overlook the unique needs of individuals and families facing chronic and complex conditions.

As you and your colleagues make critical decisions regarding healthcare, please consider the needs of patients with chronic health conditions. Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act without a well-crafted replacement that has been thoroughly discussed with patient stakeholders.

Secondly, make sure any proposal maintains crucial patient protections that promote access and prevent financial hardships for those with chronic and complex conditions:

•    prohibit pre-existing condition discrimination with no continuous coverage strings attached
•    allow young adults to stay on family coverage until they are 26
•    restrict lifetime and annual caps on benefits
•    limit out-of-pocket costs for patients

Thank you for your time and your consideration of this request. I look forward to hearing from you in this regard.

Sincerely,
[Name]
[Address]

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