Last week, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, (D-W.Va.) introduced the Preexisting Condition Patient Protection Act of 2009 (S. 623) (the "Bill"). According to Senator Rockefeller, the Bill will address any coverage gaps created in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 regarding preexisting condition exclusions by eliminating the use of preexisting condition exclusions in all health insurance markets. The Bill accomplishes this by amending Section 701 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. § 1181), Sections 2701, 2711, and 2741 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 300gg and 300gg-11), and Section 9801 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. § 9801) to prohibit preexisting condition exclusions in all forms of health insurance.
The Bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a report to Congress on the extent of the adverse selection that will occur (i.e. when less healthy people disproportionately enroll in a risk pool) when insurers are no longer able to exclude patients with preexisting conditions. The Bill also requires the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress addressing the impact that the legislation will have on reducing the number of uninsured and underinsured, as well as its effect on the affordability of health insurance coverage.