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Letter to the editor: Dem-NPL is fighting to protect North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions

 

December 9, 2019



A recent article on the work of the interim Healthcare Committee failed to mention that guaranteed protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions were offered by Democratic-NPL legislators (section 14 of SB 2010) back in April 2019. Unfortunately, this effort was defeated by the Republican supermajority during the 2019 legislative session. They had the opportunity to take action and once again showed their true colors— that they put politics ahead of people's health care.

When the version of SB 2010 that included the amendment to guarantee protections for pre-existing conditions passed the House (no thanks to the 33 GOP legislators who voted against this amendment), Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread and the Republican supermajority later removed the amendment (section 14) from the bill. It should be noted that efforts to protect North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions were led by Democratic-NPL lawmakers, while the ACA lawsuit that would strip away these protections earned the full-throated support of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Insurance Commissioner Godfread, and Congressman Kelly Armstrong.

"If the State is able to remove coverage for pre-existing conditions from the ACA, which will happen if the lawsuit is successful, a great number of people will find that they will lose coverage or be asked to pay premiums that they can't afford," said Rep. Rick Holman (D-Mayville). "Our job should be to help people not hurt them."

It also deserves mention that three of the members on the current interim Health Care Committee voted against protecting pre-existing conditions during the 2019 legislative session: Clayton Fegley (R-Berthold), Jim Kasper (R-Fargo), and Lisa Meier (R-Bismarck). Additionally, Rep. Robin Weisz (R-Hurdsfield) and Rep. Bob Paulson (R-Minot), who were absent during this vote, later voted against the final version of SB 2010.

"Instead of supporting North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions and protecting the very constituents who elected them, Godfread and Republican legislators once again played political games," said Dem-NPL Chairwoman Kylie Oversen. "What if the Stenehjem and Godfread supported lawsuit against the ACA succeeds prior to the 2021 legislative session? North Dakotans well-being is at risk. This is yet another example of the ND Republicans refusing to do the right thing for tens of thousands of North Dakotans. If you don't believe me, listen to the words of Rep. Dan Ruby (R-Minot), who specifically carried forward the long-standing Republican position of denying guaranteed coverage and protections for North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions, simply because they 'didn't like' it."

 
 

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