Rep. Lawson calls on Gov. Scott to cease efforts to gut protections for pre-existing conditions
Special to the Outlook
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) joined all 12 Democratic members in Florida’s congressional delegation in asking the State of Florida to immediately withdraw from a Texas-led lawsuit aimed at dismantling the nation’s health care law and eliminating protections for those with pre-existing conditions. In a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, the delegation said the state of Florida was wrong to join as a party to the lawsuit filed in February that would, in effect, take away health care coverage from roughly 130 million Americans, including 7.8 million Floridians with pre-existing conditions.
“Instead of building additional barriers to keep health care coverage away from those in need, we strongly urge you to withdraw from this reckless lawsuit immediately and work with us to increase consumer protections for the people of Florida and continue to prevent health care plans from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers also called on Scott to expand Medicaid coverage to 800,000 Floridians who desperately need it.
“We once again implore you to work with us to set a different course and do what is right for the people of Florida,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to support protections that prohibit insurance companies from charging people higher rates based on their health status, and to expand Medicaid coverage to 800,000 Floridians who desperately need it.”
Rep. Lawson said it is shameful that Gov. Scott and Republicans are once again working to kill off the Affordable Care Act by eliminating coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
“Many Floridians who would otherwise not have health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and asthma, would see their lives disrupted if Republicans had their way,” Rep. Lawson said. “I will continue to fight every step of the way to make sure that every American has access to affordable health care.”
In addition to Lawson, the letter was signed by Sen. Bill Nelson, Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.
Below is the full text of the letter:
June 13, 2018
The Honorable Rick Scott
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
RE: Protect health coverage for Floridians with pre-existing conditions
Dear Governor Scott,
We are extremely concerned about the Trump Administration’s refusal to defend the nation’s health care law, and the state of Florida’s decision to join as a party to Texas v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). By joining this lawsuit, the state of Florida is actively working to hurt Americans with pre-existing conditions. And, as representatives of the people of Florida, we urge you to withdraw from this dangerous suit immediately—and instead adopt additional consumer protections that will protect those with pre-existing conditions.
Having failed multiple times to rip health coverage away through Congress, the Trump Administration is now attempting to use the court system to take the guarantee of health coverage away from 7.8 million Floridians with pre-existing conditions. This is wrong.
In February, attorneys general in 20 states—including the attorney general of Florida—filed a lawsuit in Texas v. HHS to strike down the nation’s health care law and all of its critical protections with no plan in place to replace it. And just last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief in that case urging the court to do exactly what these states are asking for—to overturn critical pieces of the nation’s health care law.
If the administration and these attorneys general prevail, health insurers across the country will once again be able to charge unlimited premiums for older adults and discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by refusing to offer them coverage or charging them exorbitant premiums simply because of their past medical history.
If successful, this dangerous lawsuit that you and Attorney General Bondi have joined will harm roughly 130 million Americans, including 7.8 million Floridians who have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, cancer, asthma and Alzheimer’s—and it will take us back to a time when health insurers oftentimes outright rejected, or offered severely limited coverage to, Americans with such conditions. It will also put great financial strain on our hospitals and communities due to uncompensated care costs.
Floridians deserve better.
We understand that your decision to join this lawsuit is consistent with your earlier actions in favor of repealing the nation’s health care law and refusing to expand Medicaid coverage to 800,000 Floridians. But, just as we did in our letter on May 17, we once again implore you to work with us to set a different course and do what is right for the people of Florida.
We urge you to support protections that prohibit insurance companies from charging people higher rates based on their health status, and to expand Medicaid coverage to 800,000 Floridians who desperately need it. Just last month, the state of Virginia changed its course and chose to finally expand Medicaid coverage for its residents because “key Republicans from rural areas couldn’t bear to deny coverage for their constituents any longer.” The people of Florida deserve the same.
So, instead of building additional barriers to keep health care coverage away from those in need, we strongly urge you to withdraw from this reckless lawsuit immediately and work with us to increase consumer protections for the people of Florida and continue to prevent health care plans from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions.