ICYMI: Glen Sturtevant voted to let insurance companies sell plans that don’t cover pre-existing conditions
By Keya Vakil
June 11, 2019

More than 3.4 million Virginians live with a pre-existing condition, but State Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R-Midlothian) and his fellow Republicans voted this year to allow insurance companies to sell short-term insurance plans that are not required to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

These short-term plans, which have been encouraged by President Trump, would have allowed insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, and also to avoid providing essential health benefits, such as maternity care and prescription drug coverage. 

Gov. Ralph Northam referenced these concerns when he vetoed SB 1240, saying that the plans are “allowed to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions, impose lifetime and annual caps, and are not required to provide essential health benefits.”

Critics of short-term plans also argue that they are intended to undermine the ACA by drawing healthy people out of the more comprehensive insurance pools, thus causing sick individuals’ premiums to rise.

One of Sturtevant’s own bills, SB 1027, which would have allowed for the sale of “catastrophic” health insurance plans to all individuals, raised similar concerns. Catastrophic plans have low premiums, but require individuals to meet much higher deductibles – $7,900 in 2019, according to healthcare.gov – before the plan kicks in. 

Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed SB 1027, too, saying it would likely lead individuals enrolled in catastrophic health plans to skip medical care because of the exorbitant cost, which could cause their conditions to worsen and get more expensive to treat in the long run.

He also expressed concern that the legislation would draw healthy individuals out of the traditional marketplace, which “would likely contribute to an increase in Virginia marketplace premiums across the board.”

Northam also used his veto statement to praise Virginia’s Medicaid expansion; an expansion Sturtevant voted against, despite the fact that it includes coverage for pre-existing conditions and stood to benefit nearly 5,000 of his constituents, according to state estimates.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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