Threat Level Trump

DeFazio and other Democrats say Trump administration threatens people with pre-existing conditions or jobs like logging

Nov. 1 is the first day of open enrollment for health insurance. Back in June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would not defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a lawsuit led by Texas and joined by 19 states. Rep. Peter DeFazio released a report on the first day of open enrollment that projects how many people in Oregon could be affected by Trump’s decision. If Democrats take over the House on Nov. 6, it would mean protecting the ACA against the Republican Party’s knack for dismantling it.

By not providing an alternative and letting the lawsuit go forward without defense, 218,000 people in the individual market in Oregon could lose federal protections against coverage denials or premium increases due to pre-existing conditions according to a report prepared for Oregon’s Democratic members of Congress.

DeFazio joined with medical staff from McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center and state Sen. Lee Beyer and Democratic state representative candidate Marty Wilde to send a reminder of the importance of the ACA and the protections President Barack Obama put in place in 2010.

DeFazio says that without pre-existing condition protection, it will impact the ability to access affordable health care.

The Democratic Staff Report written by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, projects that 138,000 people in the state have pre-existing conditions. Of those people, 68,000 have pre-existing health conditions so severe that insurers would deny them coverage.

A decade-old knee surgery could increase premiums by 25 to 40 percent and depression could increase premiums by 20 to 50 percent, the report said, citing a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

When Trump visited Eugene during the 2016 campaign, he told his supporters it was time to get Oregon to start logging again. If Trump’s wish came true, despite the increase in work, loggers would have a hard time finding insurance. The report says that before the ACA enacted protections, insurance companies could discriminate against certain high-risk occupations. This includes 4,000 loggers, 6,300 agricultural workers, 3,000 roofers and 2,600 sawmillers.

These workers who purchase insurance through the individual market may lose federal protections, the report added.

For Wilde, the ability to have affordable health insurance despite pre-existing conditions means freedom to leave one’s job. It means you don’t have to stick around for health insurance benefits, allowing the possibility of entrepreneurship.

With the election nearly upon us, it’ll be time to see whether the U.S. has its “Blue Wave,” leading to a takeover of the House of Representatives.

DeFazio tells Eugene Weekly he’s doing everything he can to help the Democrat Party take over the House. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, giving Democrats a 84.4 percent chance of taking control of the House, but DeFazio says he’s still aware of the chance of Republicans maintaining control.

If Democrats take more seats, DeFazio says the House could block Trump and the Republican Party’s efforts to repeal ACA and even work to improve the law.

“Instead of deepening on the Senate to block an egregious step by this administration and Republicans, we would be looking to improve ACA,” he says. “Like my idea of a national exchange plan that’s not for profit to lower the premiums. High premiums are a problem for people who don’t get the subsidies.”

He adds: “Trump said he wanted better health care for everybody. Guess what? We’re going to give him an opportunity.”

He’s also open to working with Sen. Bernie Sanders on Medicare for All, but he says the details need to be worked out before it goes anywhere.

The report was prepared for Reps. DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, Suzanne Bonamici and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Read the report here.