What counts as a pre-existing condition? Northeast Ohioans worry about new health care bill

Posted at 6:16 PM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 18:16:27-04

As it stands now, the new U.S. house-approved health care bill, currently on its way to the Senate, could penalize you for having pre-existing conditions such as these and the concerns don't stop there.

There’s a lot of worry in Northeast Ohio and for good reason. More than 100,000 people in Cuyahoga County alone rely on Medicaid. That program, under the current proposal, would see $880 billion in cuts. Even those with private health insurance are now also at risk.

MORE: House votes to repeal Affordable Care Act; bill moves on to Senate

Right now, the hashtag, "I am a preexisting condition," is trending on Twitter.

"It's personal because I have a pre-existing condition," said Kate Lodge.

Lodge, who has multiple sclerosis, tells News 5 she is now losing sleep at night thinking about her health and financial future.

“In a country this wealthy, you would hope we'd figure out how to take care of people in the health care arena," said Lodge.

Monthly treatments, which cost $10,000, keep her MS in check. Her insurance picks up the tab.

That could soon change under the House-approved Obamacare replacement bill.

"It would allow insurance plans to discriminate who they would or would not cover at certain price points," said Loren Anthes, of The Center for Community Solutions.

The list of pre-existing conditions covers everything from anxiety and depression to C-Sections and cancer.

"This qualifies for a lot of people and essentially could limit their ability to access affordable health care through private insurance," said Anthes.

The bill, which passed by the House on Thursday, would significantly reduce the $56 million a month our large medical employers receive.

"If any of that money is diminished there's an economic impact multiplier that's associated with that there's less money in the economy," said Anthes.

Anthes tells News 5 it would also cripple Ohio's ability to tackle opioid addiction -- and its high infant mortality rate.

"The main conduit that we solve those issues and other public health issues like lead poisoning is often through the Medicaid program," said Anthes.

As for those with pre-existing conditions, like Kate Lodge, they are holding out hope the Senate will make changes to the bill.

"Scary thing when you think of the progress that's been made and your ability to be functional is threatened by changes in the law," she said.

Now even though they might be able to hold those conditions against patients, Anthes tells me there is no guarantee every insurer will.

U.S. Senate leaders say that while they will review the House bill, they will also write their own version of a health care overhaul.