After passing the Senate Health and Welfare Committee without opposition and unanimously passing the full Senate, SB 173 (the Health Care Coverage for Louisiana Families Protection Act) received full approval in the House Insurance Committee yesterday.
While members on both sides of the aisle are putting politics aside and supporting this constitutionally-sound, state-based solution to protect people with pre-existing healthcare conditions and lower cost of health insurance premiums – the Governor unfortunately has chosen to bypass the legislative process. Instead of joining the bipartisan effort, he elected to use his phone and pen to mandate redundant actions.
According to his Executive Order, the Governor created a task force to consider things that SB 173 currently addresses:
Tasks 1 & 2: “guaranteed issue” and “preexisting condition exclusion prohibition”
- §1123 of SB 173 already prohibits insurers from excluding those with preexisting health conditions from coverage.
Task 3: “prohibition of lifetime and annual limits on coverage”
- §1124 of SB 173 is a prohibition of lifetime and annual limits on the dollar value of coverage benefits.
Task 4: “essential health benefits”
- §1128 of SB 173 establishes a minimum threshold of essential health benefits, including ambulance care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, hospitalizations, pediatric care, and prescription drugs, among others.
Task 5: “nondiscrimination”
- §1128 (D) of SB 173, tasks the Louisiana Insurance Department with ensuring that benefits are not denied on the basis of the individual's age, life expectancy, present or predicted disability, degree of medical dependency, or quality of life.
Task 6: “studying the costs and funding possibilities needed in the event Obamacare is overturned by the courts”
- Yet again, §1135 of SB 173 already requires that the costs and funding associated with the proposed program be analyzed and requires that the final funding scheme be approved by the people’s representatives - the Legislature.
Again, SB 173 has garnered unanimous, bipartisan support. It recognizes Louisiana’s unique circumstances and establishes a plan to protect preexisting healthcare conditions and provide other patient protections should appellate courts uphold the district ruling that the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. If the Governor shares these goals – he would cast aside divisive Washington-style politics and support this bipartisan effort in the Legislature.