How HHS is Stoking the Fires of Healthcare Reform Controversy

Jeff Elliott, for HealthLeaders Media, January 26, 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services last week issued a statement indicating that nearly 130 million non-elderly Americans could potentially be denied health insurance coverage without provisions for pre-existing conditions included within the Accountable Care Act. While it sounds like a pretty astounding number, HHS supposedly validates this claim by stating that 15 to 30 percent of individuals under 65, while in perfectly good health today, will acquire a pre-existing condition within eight years.

"The Affordable Care Act is stopping insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions and is giving us all more freedom and control over our healthcare decision," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement announcing the analysis.

Now I'm not one to pat health insurers on the back and tell them that everything they do is A-OK, but given HHS's bold statement, it reeked a bit like rhetoric gone awry. After all, why else would they release this heart-tugging analysis mere hours before the House planned its repeal vote?

Keep in mind that America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry lobbying group, isn't directly opposed to pre-existing coverage rules stating that they support coverage for everyone.

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