Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) said on Monday evening that he didn't believe highly expensive health care should be provided to uninsured patients with pre-existing conditions. He allowed, however, that there should be "a structure to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions." His comments came during a House Rules Committee meeting to set terms of debate for the "Repeal Obamacare Act," which will be brought to a vote on Wednesday. It is expected to pass, as have more than 30 attempts to repeal it previously.
"While I don't think that someone who is diagnosed with a massive tumor should the next day be able to have millions and millions and millions of dollars of health care provided, I do believe there can be a structure to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions," Dreier said.
President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, which was recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court, contains a provision banning discrimination for pre-existing conditions. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, insurers will not be allowed to reject people with pre-existing conditions or charge them higher rates.
Dreier's suggestion? Instead of insurance, patients should enter a high-risk insurance pool, which provides coverage to people who were rejected by insurance companies. "My state of California has a structure in place to deal with pre-existing conditions," he said. "It's a pooling process which I think is one that is worthy of consideration."
Thirty-five states now have high-risk pools, covering about 208,000 people. Those policies are open to individuals with pre-existing health issues but often come with high premiums, waiting periods and coverage exclusions for certain conditions.
The Affordable Care Act included a new federal high-risk pool (modeled on the state plans) called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. So far, only 67,000 Americans have enrolled. The program will be phased out in 2014 when the law's broader provisions kick in.
Following the Supreme Court decision to uphold Obama's signature health care law, Dreier vowed to continue the fight to kill it. "We must redouble our efforts to repeal and replace this law with patient-centered reforms that will reduce costs and help the American people meet their healthcare needs," he said in a statement.
Dreier, who is Chairman of the House Rules Committee, announced in February he is retiring after serving in the House since since 1981.