It’s been one year since President Donald Trump’s administration began attempting to block a requirement that prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
The mandate is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is supported by 65 percent of Americans, including more than half of Republicans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
For freshman state Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham), mandating that health insurers can’t deny coverage because of medical history is critical, particularly for women.
In an interview with the Advance on Friday, Manoogian sought to highlight the importance of the provision and how she’s using it as something of a litmus test in selecting a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
The following are excerpts from the interview:
Michigan Advance: What makes the topic of pre-existing conditions one that you want to emphasize?
Manoogian: My voters are really concerned about attacks on health care and we know that the protections to pre-existing conditions are essential to making sure that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care.
Especially for women, because a lot of procedures that specifically pertain to women’s health care that are covered are considered a pre-existing condition. So we know that making sure those pre-existing conditions are covered in affordable health insurance is critical to making sure we get access to health care.
Michigan Advance: So why do you think this issue resonates with people in Michigan?
Manoogian: So one of the things that concern me, especially with regards to the court brief by the Trump administration is the potential for the expansion of Medicaid to go away. Under the previous [former Gov. Rick Snyder] administration here in Michigan, we were able to expand Medicaid, which made sure we were able to cover as many folks as we possibly could.
If … those pre-existing conditions should be ruled unconstitutional, you could end rolling back these safeguards for around 4 million Michiganders with pre-existing conditions.
Michigan Advance: Where do you see the Trump administration’s lawsuit standing at present?
Manoogian: At this point, we’re in a situation where the brief has been filed and there’s a coalition, including the Trump administration, kind of leading the charge that is seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
Because of the Trump tax cuts, there was a portion of that legislation that eliminated the penalty for the ACA’s individual coverage mandate, so basically, the rest of the ACA would fall apart without it. But about a year ago is when this court case was filed, and we’re revisiting this topic because we’re heading into an election year.
We know this issue is going to be incredibly top-of-mind for voters … not just because it’s important politically, but because this something that will really and truly impact Michiganders and folks across the country with regard to their health and well-being.
Michigan Advance: So as you point out, health care will be a huge topic heading into 2020 and an extremely crowded field of Democratic challengers. What would you and your constituents like to hear as they seek to make a decision on a candidate?
Manoogian: For me, what I’m looking for in a candidate, is someone who can clearly articulate how they’re going to protect pre-existing conditions — how they’re going to fight for women’s health care of all kinds. … There’s even more work to ensure everyone can access affordable, quality health care. For me, I want to see someone with a bold, concrete plan and who can go toe-to-toe and defend that plan.
We know full well that the president is not serious about pretty much any policy proposal that he introduces and certainly not policies around health care. We know that during the campaign in 2016 he made big promises that he had no intention of keeping with regards to health care, especially for some of our most vulnerable Americans.
What I would like to see is someone who can really go toe-to-toe with him. What that means is having a bold, but clearly articulated — so that the average American can understand — plan to address all different types of health care, including, like I said, women’s health care.
Michigan Advance: So do you see this law going all the way to the [U.S.] Supreme Court?
Manoogian: I’m not entirely sure if this will go all the way to the Supreme Court. We’ve seen lots of other instances where the Trump administration has been sued where those cases were tried in lower court. We could see a situation where it doesn’t make it all the way to the Supreme Court.