Lawmakers Push to Cover Pre-existing Conditions and Essential Health Care Services

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo) introduced a bipartisan bill that will add several healthcare protections in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the North Dakota Century Code. The Senate Committee on Industry, Business, and Labor held a hearing today on the bill this morning. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Marcellais (D-Belcourt), Rep Pamela Anderson (D- Fargo), Rep. George Keiser (R-Bismarck), and Rep. Austen Schauer (R-West Fargo).

“For years, some members of Congress have been advocating to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but they haven’t come up with a solution,” Sen. Mathern said. “Rather than just continuing to talk about it, this bill will provide real solutions for North Dakotans.”

SB 2222 includes those parts of the ACA that have enjoyed the most bipartisan support. These provisions include a ban on pre-existing conditions, permitting children to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26, and free preventative care. Only plans that currently cover these essential services would be subject to the new law.

More than 300,000 North Dakotans have pre-existing conditions.

The need for this bill was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments last fall. If the Court rules in Texas’s favor, North Dakotans would lose all of the protections they currently enjoy under federal law. SB 2222 will assure North Dakotans that their health care benefits will remain intact.

“Our citizens need predictable health insurance coverage,” Sen. Mathern continued. “Our citizens are supportive of the benefits enumerated by this bill. This bill will ensure that North Dakotans that need health insurance can get health insurance, regardless of what happens at the federal level.”