Pamplin Media Group – Senators: a court candidate would endanger the insurance guarantee

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Wyden of Oregon and Cantwell of Washington, both Democrats, join an unusual event with patients and patient advocates to raise questions about how President Trump’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court would affect the future of the 2010 healthcare overhaul.


U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Maria Cantwell appeared together on Friday to promote the Democrats’ argument that Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court could increase the cost of insurance for millions of people based on their medical condition.

Their joint appearance on the South Waterfront campus of Oregon Health & Science University was unusual. Wyden represents Oregon; Cantwell, Washington.

But Democrats nationwide are focused on how Kavanaugh could tip the scales on the High Court against the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law that prohibits insurers from charging more – or even denying coverage. – people suffering from pre-existing conditions. Asthma, cancer, heart disease, and stroke are some of them.

Wyden said the stakes are high for about 1.6 million Oregonians – 40% of the state’s population – and 133 million nationwide with questions about their health.

“We know we have a big task ahead of us to define Judge Kavanaugh’s record,” Wyden said.

Flanked by patients and patient advocates, Wyden and Cantwell acknowledged that Senate Democrats face an uphill battle to defeat Kavanaugh, a federal appeals judge who is President Donald Trump’s candidate to succeed Judge Anthony Kennedy in the court.

But Wyden said he was hopeful.

He and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley faced similar circumstances when they decided to defeat Ryan Bounds, a Portland federal prosecutor who was Trump’s candidate for a judge’s post on the Court of Appeals for 9th circuit in the United States.

“No one thought it could be done,” said Wyden, “But we spent time trying to get the record out – and we triumphed.”

Although they made Bounds’ writings public as a student at Stanford University, where he poked fun at multiculturalism and other issues, Bounds appeared to be heading for Senate confirmation on July 19. . The Senate Republican majority then withdrew his nomination when South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, who is black, signaled his opposition.

Judge criticized

Wyden cited Kavanaugh’s remarks in a 2017 lecture sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote in 2012 to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Roberts generally votes with the Conservative Bloc, but joined the Four Liberals in this 2012 affair, based on the Congressional Tax Authority.

“Kavanaugh has made it clear that he is in favor of abolishing the flawless and airtight protection of pre-existing conditions in the law,” Wyden said.

“It’s a pretty clear signal, from above, that the president chose him because he’s not going to do what John Roberts did.”

As an appeals court judge in 2011 – when the law had not yet fully come into force – Kavanaugh wrote in a dissent that the law’s requirement for individuals to obtain coverage or pay a penalty “unprecedented at the federal level in American history”. Republicans in Congress removed this requirement when they passed a federal tax code overhaul late last year.

In a 2015 ruling, Kavanaugh wrote that the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom was violated by interpreting the law to require religious nonprofit employers, through a third party, to provide screening coverage. births. Trump rescinded this rule last year.

Now, Trump’s Justice Department has weighed in with Republican attorneys general from 20 states, who are suing in Texas U.S. District Court to void insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. (Democratic attorneys general from 16 states, including Oregon and Washington, intervened from the other side.)

“Based on this specific material from Kavanaugh’s case, when this case goes to the Supreme Court, the evidence shows that Kavanaugh will side with those who want to go back and discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” Wyden mentioned.

“We think when a lot of Republicans and Independents hear about it, they’re not going to like it.”

Cantwell said critics had offered no real alternatives.

“The proposals they have put on the table with respect to the insurance market are what I consider ‘junk’ insurance,” which will offer little coverage, she said.

“We’re not going to have a race to the bottom. Covering people with care is the best way to cut costs.”

Doctor, patients talk

PHOTO FORUM: ZANE SPARLING - Dr. Jennifer DeVoe, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, speaks Friday, July 27 at OHSU about federal law ensuring insurance coverage for people regardless of or their state of health.  US Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Is at left.A doctor from Oregon Health & Science University and three patients have spoken out in favor of maintaining the federal requirement for coverage, regardless of a person’s medical condition.

Dr Jennifer DeVoe, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at OHSU, described two patients – a man and a woman – who suffered heart attack and breast cancer before the 2010 law and were unable to obtain insurance.

The man died in 2010 a few weeks after qualifying for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older.

The woman survived.

“But she lives every day in fear of whether her pre-existing condition will be used as an excuse in the future to deny her access to health insurance coverage,” DeVoe said.

“It takes more than doctors to treat health problems. We need political decision-makers who can help us… ”

The 2010 law allowed 19-year-old Liliana Morrisey of Portland to remain on her parents’ insurance until she was 26. Morrisey suffers from type 1 diabetes, which affects children and young adults.

Morrisey, a student at Oregon State University, said she was lucky that she could get drugs through insurance, although they cost money.

“As a person who depends on constant treatment… I fear that in the future I will not fight for access to health care – I will fight for my life,” she said. . “Having access to affordable health care is the key to my survival.”

Pat Janik, 74, of Vancouver, Wash., Suffers from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – and four surgeries for joint replacements. She said she had healthy habits and that she and her husband set aside savings for retirement, rather than depending on her grown children.

“These good responsible habits wouldn’t help me at all if I said I had a pre-existing condition,” she said. “How can I afford all the surgeries, the pictures, the tests, the doctors, the physiotherapy? The list goes on and on.

“It’s so easy to destroy something. Thank you both for trying to build something and for trying to keep health care the way it should be.”

Later, Marian Fenimore, 63, of Portland, said she was able to obtain insurance – she is not yet eligible for Medicare – to help pay for treatment for rotator cuff tears, chronic gastritis and neuropathy, and the diagnosis of blood abnormalities.

“I was able to get insurance to start with and they didn’t care that I had pre-existing conditions. That’s what the Affordable Care Act did for me,” she said. “Without it, I would be stuck with no insurance… and I would have to pay out of pocket.

“It really concerns me because there are so many aspects of the law that have made a difference for a lot of people.”

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