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5/16/2019 Senate backs bill to enact much of ACA at state level
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller to help protect Rhode Islanders’ access to insurance coverage in the face of threats to the federal Affordable Care Act.

The legislation, sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller and House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara, would ensure that the standards of the Affordable Care Act — often called Obamacare — remain in effect in Rhode Island, even if the courts or Congress were to eliminate the federal laws that created it.

The bill (2019-S 0738A) is also designed to provide predictability to insurers, stabilizing the Rhode Island insurance market regardless of the future of the federal law.

“Whatever may happen at the federal level, we want to do everything we can to help Rhode Islanders remain adequately insured. This bill enacts the Affordable Care Act’s standards of care that in most instances have been in place since 2010 at the state level in case the ACA is overturned or repealed. It also tells insurers that, here in Rhode Island, the quality of insurance is not going to change, so they know what benefits and coverage they can offer to policyholders. They have to be able to know the parameters to which they’re going to be held in the near future in order to write policies. This bill will protect Rhode Islanders’ health and wallets, no matter what politics play out in Washington,” said Chairman Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives, where House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-H 5916).
The legislation enacts into state law the current insurance practices that protect consumers under the ACA, such as:
  • Giving people clearer explanations of their benefits.
  • Prohibiting annual limits and lifetime dollar caps on coverage for essential benefits.
  • Requiring that insurers keep their administrative costs in check.
  • Guaranteeing that dependents up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ plans.
  • Guaranteeing protections against pre-existing condition exclusions.
  • Requiring essential benefit coverage that must be included at every tier of coverage (preventive services, maternity, hospital, mental health, etc.).
  • Guaranteeing coverage of preventive services without any patient cost-sharing.
  • Guaranteeing issue and renewal so no one can be denied a policy, even if sick.
  • Allowing discounts for wellness programs.
  •  Allowing insurance premium rates to vary only by age (not gender or health).
  • Setting out-of-pocket limits with a process for updating these annually.
In March, the Justice Department filed a letter with a federal appeals court changing its position on the ACA. It previously objected to the law’s protection prohibiting insurers from turning away people with pre-existing conditions, but is now arguing for the entire law to be struck down, which could result in millions of Americans losing health care coverage.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923