Monday, May 24, 2010

Health Group: Pre-Existing Conditions Rife in PA

Health care advocacy group Families USA has released a report saying more than one in five Pennsylvanians less than 65 years old has a diagnosed pre-existing condition.

Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack says although 2.3 million non-elderly state residents are diagnosed with pre-existing conditions, many more remain undiagnosed. Anyone with a such a health problem can be denied health insurance, including nearly 178,000 children across the state.

The national health care reform bill passed this March will outlaw that practice, but Pollack says Families USA released the report anyway because many people aren’t aware of the contents of the act.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey says children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage starting September 23 of this year. He says that right will be extended to adults in 2014.

“It’s inexcusable that we allowed this to persist year after year, decade after decade, when we were literally putting families in the path of a system that was harming them, literally,” says Casey.

Pollack says nearly three quarters of Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions have incomes more than double that of the national poverty level – at or above $44,100. Governor Ed Rendell signed an executive order last week to begin implementing the new federal health care law. He says the immediate priority is to apply for $160 million in federal aid to set up an insurance program for those with pre-existing conditions.

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