On Thursday, the House of Representatives narrowly voted to pass a measure to repeal the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with the Republican-sponsored, President Donald Trump-endorsed American Health Care Act (AHCA).
The AHCA includes a section, the Meadows-MacArthur amendment, that’s becoming the center of debate over coverage over so-called “pre-existing conditions.” A trademark of Obamacare was making it illegal for insurers to refuse to cover people with “pre-existing conditions”, but the Trump-backed AHCA has come under fire for scrapping the pre-existing conditions clause and leaving that coverage decision up to individual states.
So what exactly is a pre-existing condition? And does this new bill actually maintain the level of protection offered by Obamacare?
Controversially, it’s possible that insurers might choose to consider conditions that are the result of rape to be pre-existing conditions, should states relax standards that prevent them from doing so.
That’s something, again, that states would theoretically vote on, but consequences from rape — such as HIV, abortion services, STDs, and others could be classified as a result of a pre-existing condition. This can be potentially dangerous: It can create an environment where risky alternative medicine and other forms of birth control is practiced, self-induced abortion is practiced, and more.
Simply put, a pre-existing condition is a medical condition that began prior to insurance coverage. Insurance companies, however, have traditionally had different ways of interpreting this broad definition: Some thought of a pre-existing condition as one that was medically diagnosed before a new insurance plan took hold; others are stricter and say that the display of symptoms — even without having been evaluated by a medical professional — qualifies as a pre-existing condition.
Trump’s AHCA plan isn’t yet law, however — it still needs to pass the Senate. A vote has not yet been scheduled.Photos via Getty Images / Drew Angerer