Bill to Ensure Health Insurers Cover Pre-Existing Conditions Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation Would Protect Patients if ACA Were Changed or Repealed

Vainieri Huttle, Chiaravalloti, Downey & Danielsen Bill to Ensure Health Insurers Cover Pre-Existing Conditions Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - To make certain patients would continue to have coverage for pre-existing conditions if the federal Affordable Care Act were ever amended or repealed, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Joann Downey and Joe Danielsen to require health insurers to cover pre-existing conditions for New Jersey residents was approved on Monday by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

"Because of the Affordable Care Act, as many as 133 million people - or 51 percent of Americans - who have pre-existing conditions are guaranteed that condition will be covered by their health insurer," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "But the ACA has been threatened in the past few years. This bill will safeguard this crucial protection for patients should anything ever happen to the ACA."

The bill (A-1733) clarifies that a health insurer shall not impose, or include in its insurance policies, any provision excluding coverage for a pre-existing condition. It revises New Jersey law concerning group health insurance, the Individual Health Coverage Program, the Small Employer Health Benefits Program, hospital confinement plans, and certain hospital, medical, and health service corporation plans to conform to the federal law regarding pre-existing conditions. 

"When the ACA was passed, state law was never changed to include the mandate for coverage of pre-existing conditions," said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). "This important update sends a clear message that we in New Jersey believe health care is not a privilege, but a right."

"People with pre-existing conditions had their lives changed when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. For the first time, they could not be denied coverage by an insurance company because of their conditions, from diabetes to allergies to cancer," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "We cannot go back to a world where people had less access to critical medications or treatments because of poor insurance coverage. With this bill, we ensure that will never happen in New Jersey."

"No one should ever be penalized for having a medical condition," said Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset). "The ACA paved the way for Americans to begin seeing what was possible when they had access to coverage for pre-existing conditions. So many people now have far better quality of life as a result, and that's something we will fight to protect and guarantee for all New Jersey residents."

The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.