Worker pro­tec­tions seen at risk

Connecticut Post - - NEWS -

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s lat­est move against “Oba­macare” could jeop­ar­dize le­gal pro­tec­tions on pre-ex­ist­ing medical con­di­tions for mil­lions of peo­ple with em­ployer cov­er­age, par­tic­u­larly work­ers in small busi­nesses, say law and in­sur­ance ex­perts.

At is­sue is At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions’ re­cent de­ci­sion that the Jus­tice Depart­ment will no longer de­fend key parts of the Obama-era Af­ford­able Care Act in court. That in­cludes the law’s un­pop­u­lar re­quire­ment to carry health in­sur­ance, but also widely sup­ported pro­vi­sions that pro­tect peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing medical con­di­tions and limit what insurers can charge older, sicker cus­tomers.

Two in­de­pen­dent ex­perts said Wed­nes­day that the ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pears to be tak­ing aim at pro­vi­sions of the ACA that pro­tect peo­ple in em­ployer plans, not only the smaller pool of con­sumers who buy a pol­icy di­rectly from an in­surer. The new Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion po­si­tion was out­lined last week in a le­gal brief filed by the Jus­tice Depart­ment in a Texas case chal­leng­ing the Obama health law.

Work­ers “could face the prospect of in­sur­ance that doesn’t cover their pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions when they en­roll in a plan with a new em­ployer,” said Larry Le­vitt of the non­par­ti­san Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion.

Univer­sity of Michigan law pro­fes­sor Ni­cholas Ba­gley said the ad­min­is­tra­tion does not ap­pear to have thought through all the con­se­quences of mov­ing against one pro­vi­sion of a health law that has many com­pli­cated in­ter­lock­ing parts.

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