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Don't be fooled: Executive order offers no real protections for those with preexisting conditions

Date: Sep 25 2020

Contact: Media Relations

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

President Trump’s signing of an executive order the administration claims would protect people with preexisting health conditions from being denied health insurance is a hollow political move because it offers no actual protections.

In his order, Trump said it is the “official policy of the United States Government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”

It isn’t policy. It’s the law. One of the triumphs of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is the provision making it illegal to deny coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions.

Yet Trump has continually backed efforts to weaken the ACA. Most recently, his administration and 18 state attorneys general have asked the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law as unconstitutional. He has resisted pleas to drop this lawsuit even as the current COVID-19 pandemic makes access to health care is more critical than ever.

The new Trump executive order is not enforceable, but the ACA is. If the administration truly wants to protect the millions of people with preexisting conditions and improve the health of the American public, it would drop all of its efforts to overturn and weaken this historic law.

The American Public Health Association has repeatedly and strongly supported the ACA, which is working to shift our health care system to focus more on prevention and is helping to reduce costs and make inroads against health disparities. At least 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage through the law, and the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions are protected from discrimination. The law also provides critical funding for public health and prevention activities through the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

What is truly needed is a bipartisan effort to strengthen and further expand the benefits of the ACA. That would protect us all.


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