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Protection, not politics

For years, I have believed that people with preexisting conditions should be able to obtain health insurance that meets their needs.

This is a long-held position that dates back to my time as a healthcare lawyer. As someone who has worked in the field for many, many years, I know Obamacare is not the solution.

Obamacare’s individual mandate that everyone purchase health insurance is unconstitutional, and its skyrocketing premiums – rising more than 259 percent since 2013 in West Virginia – are unmanageable for the hard-working people of our state.

Our approach seeks to reverse the failings of Obamacare, and do so in a manner that protects our friends, family members and countless others with preexisting conditions.

That is the West Virginia way.

Now that we have introduced legislation to ensure that occurs, I am deeply troubled by those who seem fixated on playing politics and attacking what should be a bipartisan concept.

These purveyors of gloom and doom give out false information and false numbers. Instead, our debate should be based upon real facts – what’s actually happening on the ground, what’s currently in the law and what we’re trying to do through the West Virginia Healthcare Continuity Act.

Our legislation represents a state-based solution that will ensure people with preexisting conditions do not lose their ability to buy health insurance as the federal courts consider the challenge to Obamacare — otherwise known as the not-so Affordable Care Act.

It is important to note – despite all of the gloom and doom – that no one to date has lost any protections because of the challenge to Obamacare’s individual mandate and skyrocketing premiums.

No one is taking anyone’s healthcare away.

It is equally important to note that those prophesying outrageous numbers do not know which provisions will be struck down along with the unconstitutional, individual mandate. Indeed, it is possible the mandate to buy health insurance will be the only part of Obamacare the courts strike down.

Many also argue that we need Obamacare in order to protect people with preexisting conditions.

That is absolutely not true.

In fact, many people in West Virginia had protection for their preexisting conditions before Obamacare was written into law.

So, instead of fearmongering and making up numbers, it is critical that we get the Healthcare Continuity Act passed so that West Virginia is ready, and we’re able to take action almost immediately.

Our legislation would impose a general ban on restricting enrollment in healthcare coverage based on a preexisting condition, and limit how much of those costs can be passed on to patients. At the same time, it mitigates the risk faced by insurers with open enrollment periods.

This proposed legislation has garnered support from Senate President Mitch Carmichael, as well as Governor Jim Justice. Both understand the importance of keeping healthcare accessible to residents of the Mountain State, while protecting those who need it most.

A similar proposal garnered near unanimous, bipartisan support in Louisiana, and the outcome should be no different in West Virginia.

I challenge everyone to stop playing politics. Let’s step forward and pass this legislation, which would put West Virginia out in front and help those people with preexisting conditions.

By working to protect people with serious healthcare needs, we can move toward a healthier West Virginia that reaches her full potential.

Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.

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