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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The law vs. the lawsuits

Ron Pollack

Executive Director

On March 23, 219 democratically elected members of the House of Representatives voted to change our broken health care system. They voted to stop insurance companies from discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition. They voted to stop insurance companies from terminating health coverage when you get sick, and they voted to require insurers to use most of our premiums on health care, not on CEO’s salaries and profits. In short, they took a stand and voted for the American people.

Ever since then, opponents of the new law have been aggressively trying to attack the consumer protections that we have gained. From day one, they’ve been perpetuating the same myths and scare tactics that were prevalent during the health care debate. Now, they’ve taken it a step further: After all that we’ve accomplished, they want to dismantle parts of the new law.

 In the coming weeks, hearings in Virginia and Florida will determine whether or not every element of the new law is constitutional. Attorneys General from over 20 states—all consistent opponents of the law—have signed onto the Florida lawsuit.

This is an obvious grasp for cheap political points. It would be laughable if it weren’t potentially so harmful to consumers. If these Attorneys General succeed, consumer protections could go right out the window, too.

This means much of what we’ve gained from the new law could be in jeopardy. Insurance companies could continue to get away with denying people coverage if they have a pre-existing condition, preventive care services will no longer be offered free-of-charge, and women could continue to pay more in premiums simply because of their gender.

We’ve come a long way in securing protections for consumers and making sure insurance companies are held accountable. Now, a group of Attorneys General are jeopardizing everything that we’ve gained, simply to advance their own political agenda.

They obviously believe that it would be politically helpful to them, but these challenges to the health care law are potentially deeply harmful to consumers who have been waiting for help for far too long. We can’t go back to a time when a child was denied coverage because he was born with diabetes, or a mother was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer as a result of putting off getting a mammogram because it was too expensive.

Americans have waited decades for the consumer protections that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gives them. We can’t let opponents chip away at our new rights.

It’s time these Attorneys General stop putting politics before the American people.