Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) have found a novel way to give an early Christmas gift to the insurance industry.
Enzi sponsored the Health Insurance Market Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005, and the rest have signed on as cosponsors.
It was introduced in November of last year, but was placed on the legislative schedule just last week. Barring any impressive power plays, it should be on the floor soon.
The biggest feature of HIMMAA is the complete and total deregulation of the insurance industry.
The Bankruptcy Reform Act stripped out almost all consumer protections and put no restrictions on the banking industry for some of its own odious practices. This is an attempt to do the same thing for the insurance industry. When we’re talking about health care, we’re talking about protecting human life, which is something that cannot be left up to the whim of the marketplace.
This act actually allows insurance companies to refuse to pay for mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopy, and prostate cancer screenings. I don’t think I have to tell anyone how important these tools are in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. There are millions of working poor in this nation that will simply not be tested if all prescreening has to come out of their own pockets. They can’t afford it.
So what happens when people don’t get the prescreening and early treatment? The cost of their treatment rises sharply, and their odds of survival drop dramatically.
If you’re skeptical at this point, I can understand why. You’re thinking “Insurance companies know that it’s cheaper to prescreen and treat early than it is to treat full blown cancer. The market will iron itself out.”
No. No it won’t. A fully deregulated insurance industry will find it much easier to drop a patient. At that point, any medical costs that the patient can’t cover out of pocket are absorbed in the form of higher healthcare costs for all.
The human toll is too high, and the price is too high. We have to find a way to block S.1955.
I’ve taken the liberty of preparing some information on S.1955.
Here’s a link to the text of S.1955.
This is the summary released by the American Cancer Society.
Additional Information About S. 1955
S. 1955 is officially known as the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act. It has also been referred to as the Small Business Health Plan bill and the Association Health Plan legislation.
S. 1955 would remove any guarantee of access for vital cancer screenings, prevention and treatments that are currently provided for under more than 130 state laws across the country. These include coverage for mammograms, colonoscopies, clinical trials participation and other screenings and treatments.
This bill would apply to the entire insurance market – not just for small businesses. That means that everyone who works for a private company, no matter its size, would lose their guarantee of access to the vital benefits.
The bill only requires that insurers offer employers the option of providing to their employees one plan similar to any one of the plans offered to state employees in any of the 5 most populous states. However, the bill does not require that employers offer this plan to their employees nor does it require that the plan be comprehensive in its coverage of important benefits like cancer screenings and treatments.
This bill would nullify all of ACS’ work in the states to guarantee access to mammography, colon cancer screening, clinical trial participation, off-label drug use and other cancer screenings and treatments.
The bill imposes a “one size fits all” federal rule on the states. State legislatures passed insurance requirements in response to a need in the states, and the federal government should not override these laws, especially since doing so will weaken cancer patients’ access to life-saving benefits.
The American Diabetes Association:
The U.S. Senate will soon vote on a bill that could leave millions of Americans with diabetes without insurance coverage for their diabetes needs. The bill, S. 1955, will pre-empt the 46 state laws, passed over the last decade with bi-partisan support, that require state-regulated health plans to cover diabetes education, equipment, and supplies. As American Diabetes Association volunteers, this legislation directly impacts our mission. We must join together and stop it.
Today the organization is asking for your help in our efforts to lobby Senators and secure their opposition to S. 1955 in its current state as it fails to protect state diabetes coverage regulations.
The National Organization of Social Workers, 39 states’ attorneys general, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the American Optometric Association, the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, the American Nurses Association , and the National Mental Health Association all agree: S.1995 has to be stopped.
In fact, the only people that like it are the insurance industry and the eight sponsors.
We’ve got to do all that is within our power to stop this one.