James Weisman, the president and CEO of United Spinal Association, sent a letter to President Trump on Jan. 23 asking him to ensure that a replacement plan is in place before Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act. The ACA, and in particular, the provision that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher rates to those with pre-existing conditions, has been transformative in helping people with a variety of disabilities to afford private health insurance.
In the letter, Weisman argues that access to the private health insurance marketplace has far-ranging implications for those with spinal cord injuries:
[The ACA] is the gateway to employment for paralyzed people. For generations, people with disabilities could not risk losing the support of government programs for their health care, like Medicaid and Medicare, to go back to work, or even seek employment for the first time, because their employers’ insurance policy would impose waiting periods before covering disabling conditions or not cover them at all. This kept people at home, who were educated, trained and employable, and dependent on taxpayers for their health care.
In his campaign and in recent statements, Trump vowed that there would be a replacement ready for the ACA as soon as it’s repealed. The Republican majority in Congress, however, has made moves toward repealing the ACA, while offering few details as to what a replacement plan may look like. Weisman wants to make sure that Trump’s pledge of “insurance for everyone” includes people with disabilities.
In an interview with New Mobility, which is owned by United Spinal, Weisman emphasized: “This is a civil rights issue, and an access to healthcare issue. People with disabilities shouldn’t be sicker than everybody else just because they don’t have access to healthcare. Market forces will make people with disabilities the victims unless government steps in.”
For more information about what the potential repeal of the ACA means for people with disabilities, please follow New Mobility’s five-part series on the subject.
Part I can be found here.