Preserve Affordable Care Act

Protecting Montanans with preexisting conditions means protecting laws like the ACA

By Katie Mazurek and Amy Coseo

Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale doesn’t want to take responsibility for what his position means to the 425,900 Montanans who have preexisting conditions; the 49,007 Montanans enrolled in the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, or the 79,700 who would lose coverage if current attempts to dismantle the ACA succeed. Auditor Rosendale has claimed that the ACA is “causing tremendous pain for folks across the state.” In reality, the ACA opened the door for 58,100 Montanans to enroll in healthcare through Montana’s Medicaid.

Protecting Montanans with preexisting conditions means protecting laws like the ACA that prevent insurers from denying coverage to Montanans based on “deniable conditions” or keeping “deniable medications” out of the hands of those who need them.

The Urban Institute published a study showing that asking Montanans to rely on junk plans, agreements outside of what is currently allowed under law, and ending coverage requirements could artificially inflate individual insurance premiums by 19.8 percent in Montana for 2018

Auditor Rosendale has claimed that the ACA left states with “little recourse” to control premium increases, but in reality, the Affordable Care Act allows states to take steps to lower premiums and has added scrutiny and transparency to rate review processes. Beyond allowing states to adopt strategies to limit premiums, the Affordable Care Act also mandates that insurance companies seeking to increase premiums submit formal requests so that experts and state officials can evaluate whether the rate requests are based on solid evidence.

Additionally, the plans that Auditor Rosendale and the current administration are suggesting as replacements could leave more than 26,000 Montanans without comprehensive coverage because they will lose insurance or be enrolled in plans that do not provide key health benefits.

Montanans deserve access to quality health care, and across the state, they are currently getting it. Montanans are accessing healthcare at rural community health centers, clinics, and hospitals in their hometowns. Damaging the ACA could threaten the support for Medicaid in Montana that is keeping these places open.

Because of the support funding provided by the ACA for Montana’s Medicaid expansion waiver, more than 96,209 Montanans have access to health coverage. This coverage would be in danger if the ACA went away.

Across the state, Montanans have been sharing their stories about what the ACA means to them and how it has helped them access care, afford prescriptions, keep their homes, and provide care to those in their communities who need it.

Montanans know what the ACA means to them. It means access to healthcare when and where they need it at prices they can afford. It doesn’t mean being sold short-term policies that exclude maternity care, prescription drugs, substance abuse treatment, or mental health services.

Montanans deserve better than having to worry if being a cancer survivor will cost them their healthcare coverage.

Montanans deserve better than being told life-saving drugs aren’t covered under their plans.

Taking away the Affordable Care Act is taking away a safety net for Montanans, one that keeps us healthy, happy, and engaged in our communities.

Montanans deserve better than that.

Katie Mazurek, founding member, Protect Our Care Montana
Amy Coseo, legislative ambassador, American Cancer Society

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