HARRISBURG – January 28, 2021 – State Senators Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Maria Collett (D-Montgomery/Bucks), Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), and Tim Kearney (D-Delaware), reintroduced package of bills to ensure Pennsylvanians maintain quality, stable health care for years to come.
The legislation package aims to codify certain health care protections in Pennsylvania to help stabilize health care protections in Pennsylvania independent of federal mandates. The bills reintroduced include:
- Senate Bill 50 — prohibiting denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions
- Senate Bill 51 — providing for essential health benefits such as mental health and addiction treatment
- Senate Bill 52 — prohibition on selling insurance policies that have an annual or lifetime limit on coverage
“Pennsylvanians deserve high quality health care that provides comprehensive, affordable coverage throughout their lifetimes,” Sen. Hughes said. “What they don’t need are cut-rate plans that only offer health care in name or don’t provide the necessary benefits. We must continue to work to build on the progress under the administration of President Barack Obama and the major step forward taken to ensure people have the health care they deserve.”
The senators are also supportive of Senate Bill 53, sponsored by Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), which would allow young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until they reach age 26, a critical protection passed in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“As a nurse, I’ve seen the devastation caused when coverage is denied due to preexisting condition, or when a patient’s insurance fails to cover essential health benefits like mental health services. No family should have to choose between meals and medical care,” Sen. Collett said. “As the COVID crisis continues to impact millions in our Commonwealth, the legislature has an urgent responsibility to strengthen protections and ensure every Pennsylvanian receives the care they deserve.”
Pennsylvania has fully and successfully implemented the federal Patient Protection Act and the ACA, which has led to an increase in insured individuals and rate decreases across the board. Several conservative states are pushing for the courts to strike down the ACA under the previous federal administration.
“We all have family, friends and neighbors who suffer from chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, cancer, addiction or mental illness that require ongoing treatment and drug therapies,” Sen. Fontana said. “No one should ever have to worry about exceeding arbitrary annual and lifetime limitations on their health insurance coverage. The only focus should be on managing ailments and staying well. Legislation ensuring that these monetary limits on health insurance policies will ensure nearly 4.5 million Pennsylvanians will not be saddled with mounting debt while simply seeking to stay healthy.”
For its part, Pennsylvania has seen success being proactive in addressing its peoples’ health care needs. The Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 42 of 2019 with bipartisan support, establishing Pennie, a state-based insurance marketplace to help reduce residents’ health care costs and increase accessibility to quality health coverage.
“Healthcare is a basic human right and we must fight for quality, affordable care for all Pennsylvanians,” Sen. Kearney said. “The state legislature must step up to ensure our people are covered and protected. That is why I’m proud to join my colleagues on introducing these bills to ensure everyone can get the care they need.”
Marketplace premiums decreased by 3.3 percent in the first year of Pennie’s first year of operation and about 330,000 people signed up through the exchange. Nearly all who signed up qualified for subsidies towards their premiums. The senators are looking to see continued growth through the exchange and creating policy that will at least maintain the same level of coverage as the prior year.