This week, while listening to diabeticfeed, I discovered the status of a truly frightening piece of legislation:
The "Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act" or "S. 1955."
It wasn't the first time I'd heard of this bill. Back in November, I'd read a disturbing article that outlined some of the devastating consequences of S. 1955-- a bill that supporters believe will help more Americans gain access to health insurance.
In reality, should this bill become law, it would jeopardize health insurance coverage for diabetes medicine, supplies, screening tests...
In other words, everything my son needs to stay alive and healthy.
Needless to say, I worried about this thing for weeks-- imagining what would happen if my son's pump, test strips, insulin were no longer covered by insurance.
If regular visits with the endocrinologist, annual eye exams, tests for thyroid, celiac, kidney dysfunction-- were all no longer covered.
But wait, under this new legislation surely there would be some kind of health insurance that would cover all of these things?
There had to be.
Yes, in fact there would be (in some cases) options--but options with high deductibles and no premium restrictions.
God knows what we'd be paying for insurance if this bill became law. What my son would be forced to pay-- if in fact, he could afford it-- down the road.
And what if he had nothing?
Yeah, this bill scared the hell out of me.
So what did I do about it?
I forced the damn thing right out of my mind, because there was just no way something that reprehensible could pass in this country.
Maybe S. 1955 could pass in 1955.
But not in 2006.
Well, last week, S. 1955 passed by an 11-9 vote in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
What this means is that S. 1955 (unlike so many bills that never make it out of committee) will be voted on by the full Senate.
And what happens if this piece of legislation makes it to the White House?
Do you think President Bush will veto it? A bill that will dramatically cut costs for health insurers? For business owners? Corporations?
Pointless questions, I know.
So, we've got to do something.
Today, I found an excellent post on this very issue that outlines ways in which we can all act. Please go and check it out.
And call or email your Senator.
Or go to the ADA website , or call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) to find out other ways in which you can make your voice heard.
If you're a blogger, post about this thing. Help make more people aware of what's at stake.
And for those of you reading who do not have diabetes, who don't have a child with the disease, please consider this:
It's not just my son's future we're talking about here. Not just the millions of Americans who struggle with diabetes each and every day.
S. 1955 would affect, not only diabetics, but everyone.
Please read the following letter as it gives a sense of how this bill will impact you and your family:
March 7, 2006
The undersigned organizations are writing in opposition to the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005, S. 1955. This controversial legislation would preempt state insurance laws, not just in the small group market (as is done by Association Health Plan legislation), but also in the individual and large group markets. S. 1955 would thwart years of state efforts to make sure that consumers have adequate health coverage.
S. 1955 would take away the states’ autonomy to regulate health insurance. The bill preempts state benefit, service and provider laws that states have enacted to ensure that consumers have adequate health coverage. Cancer screenings and treatment, diabetes supplies and education, mental health, preventive care, rehabilitation, well-child care and immunizations, maternity care, and other vital benefits and protections would be lost. S. 1955 also exempts Small Business Health Plans (SBHPs, also known as AHPs) from state benefit, service and provider access laws.
Insurance companies, instead of state-elected legislators, would now decide the benefits that consumers should have when they purchase health care. States would have no recourse to protect their own residents and they would lose their incentives to enact laws in the future and be laboratories for healthcare innovation.
An insurer would only need to meet one requirement in order to bypass a state’s protections: offer a second plan that resembles one offered to state employees in one of the five most populous states, a requirement that allows an insurer to choose a high deductible/HSA plan that can require a family to pay as much as $5000 out-of-pocket (after paying premiums), before coverage kicks in. Again, a state has no recourse if the plan does not meet the needs of its residents.
S. 1955 also would preempt stronger state laws that limit the ability of insurers to vary premiums based on health status, age, gender and geography. For many older, sicker Americans and those with complex health needs and disabilities, this would price them out of the health insurance market, undermining the stated purpose of the legislation. The bill imposes on all the states an outdated model law created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), rather than using the NAIC’s current model standard that is more protective.
A bill that preempts over 1000 state laws should warrant review before it is moved quickly through the Health Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and considered on the Senate floor. There is no evidence that this bill will lead to more affordable coverage or increase the number of Americans with adequate health insurance. As we have found through analysis of the federal AHP legislation, a proposal that purports to provide more affordable and expanded coverage sometimes can fail to do what it claims and even make existing access and cost problems worse.
While the sponsors of S. 1955 have made a sincere effort to address shortcomings of the AHP legislation, their solution makes things worse by endangering the quality of health care for the 68 million Americans in state-regulated group health plans and 16.5 million with individual coverage. We urge your opposition to this legislation.
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physician Assistants
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Diabetes Association
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Chiropractic Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Nurses Association
American Pediatric Society
American Podiatric Medical Association
American Psychological Association
Arc of the United States
Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Brain Injury Association of America
Communications Workers of America
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International Longshore & Warehouse Union
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
National Association of Social Workers
National Disability Rights Network
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Mental Health Association
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women's Law Center
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Small Business Majority
Society for Pediatric Research
United Cerebral Palsy
United Steelworkers International Union (USW)