Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Jun 08 2018

Heitkamp: Administration’s Support for Weakening Protections for those with Pre-Existing Conditions Endangers North Dakota Seniors, Children & Families

DOJ Announced it Will Support State Efforts to Repeal Protections for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions; Over 300,000 North Dakotans Have a Pre-Existing Condition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it will not actively defend in court critical health care protections that safeguard Americans— including seniors, children, and those with pre-existing conditions in North Dakota.

DOJ’s actions show an unprecedented effort to purposefully allow health insurance companies to charge individuals, children, and families more for health care if they have a pre-existing condition— like asthma, cancer, diabetes, or pregnancy— and charge the elderly and sick exorbitantly more for coverage.

“Imagine it was your child with cancer, and now the federal government is telling you that health insurance companies can essentially bankrupt your family in exchange for your child getting the lifesaving health care they need to live. No one should support this effort because it’s just cruel. And every member of Congress should speak out against it,” said Heitkamp. “This announcement from DOJ threatens to disproportionately undermine health care coverage for low-income families, kids with disabilities, and seniors in our state and across rural America—and it could further intensify price increases we’ve seen following last year’s failed Republican efforts to strip away coverage. We need to look for ways to improve the current health reform law— as I’ve long worked to do— but the federal government can’t recklessly strike down critical and lifesaving protections, just to score short-term political points. The administration should stop playing games with the health and wellbeing of North Dakotans with serious and chronic illnesses—and I’ll keep pushing for commonsense, bipartisan ways to keep more North Dakotans insured, prevent skyrocketing health care increases for the elderly, and protect our friends and neighbors with pre-existing conditions.”

North Dakota is one of the states that filed a reckless lawsuit to support these efforts to repeal health care protections which DOJ is now supporting. More than 300,000 North Dakotans have a pre-existing condition such as asthma, cancer, or pregnancy.

Over the past three and a half years, Heitkamp has offered many to reforms that would help the current health reform law work better for families and businesses. She will continue to try to work with Senate Republicans to reach compromise solutions that make health care affordable and accessible for North Dakotans. Since 2013, Heitkamp has also met regularly with her health care advisory board— comprised of health care leaders across North Dakota – to talk with them about health care in the state and improving the health reform law. 

In July 2017, Heitkamp introduced a bill to start the discussion about needed health care reforms. The bill would ease the current cliff on premium assistance that many middle class families and seniors face— putting affordable care out of reach. Her bill would help more families afford health insurance in the individual market by smoothing the ‘subsidy cliff’ for Americans who earn even nominal sums over 400 percent of federal poverty level.  Click here and here for video on YouTube of Heitkamp speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate about her bill.

###

 

Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov