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Kathy Castor to Ron DeSantis: Veto ‘junk policies’ health care bill or risk ‘astronomical costs’

“If Gov. DeSantis has any regard for people with preexisting conditions in Florida, he’ll veto.”

Congresswoman Kathy Castor is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto legislation that would limit affordable health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

In a statement Thursday, Castor called health care policies that could become available under legislation (SB 322) passed this year “junk policies.”

“If Gov. DeSantis has any regard for people with preexisting conditions in Florida, he’ll veto SB 322, which would throw the Affordable Care Act’s preexisting condition protections out the window and give insurance companies the green light to offer junk insurance policies that most major medical organizations in the country contend will lead to astronomical costs for anyone who gets sick while on them,” Castor said.

The bill requires insurers to keep covering preexisting conditions even if lawmakers in Washington, D.C., scrap the Affordable Care Act, a measure DeSantis promised. However, it does not maintain the same protections for patients with preexisting conditions limiting how much providers can charge.  

The bill would also allow insurers to expand the number of short-term plans available on the insurance market — the “junk policies” Castor mentioned.

The American Cancer Society estimates such policies could lead to astronomical medical bills if an otherwise healthy person were to suddenly become ill. Its study estimated that a female 57-year-old non-smoker on a 12-month short-term health plan who was diagnosed with breast cancer after obtaining coverage could incur as much as $71,000 in out-of-pocket expenses and monthly coverage premiums. That same care under the Affordable Care Act would cost less than $8,000.

The 12-month plan was the cheapest among either three- or six-month plans in that scenario and it assumed the insurer didn’t raise the patient’s coverage costs, which could happen.

The Florida bill would also not uphold language in the Affordable Care Act that bars insurance companies from discriminating against or charging patients more if they have a preexisting condition.

Lawmakers were able to approve the legislation after President Donald Trump’s administration passed a new rule last August giving states the ability to allow plans without preexisting condition protections.

Castor authored legislation that would overturn that rule, which the U.S. House approved earlier this month. The Senate is not expected to take up that bill.

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Florida’s legislation has not yet hit DeSantis’ desk.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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