As the House prepares to consider a repeal of health care reform, the Obama administration has released a startling statistic: Up to 129 million non-elderly Americans have pre-existing health conditions. That means anywhere from one-fifth to one-half of people under age 65 in the US are at risk of being charged more, or rejected entirely, by insurance companies, the Washington Post reports. (The smaller figure represents the number of people whose conditions would make them ineligible; the larger number represents those who would be faced with higher charges or limited coverage.)
The study is meant to show Americans that the health care law will help such people by guaranteeing them coverage, but a rep for the insurance industry’s main lobbying group points out that many of those people already have insurance through their jobs, and would only be at risk of denial if forced to buy coverage on their own. Adds a Republican House aide, “When a new analysis is released on the eve of a vote in Congress, it's hard to view it as anything but politics and public relations.” Debate in the House is scheduled to begin today, with the vote set to conclude tomorrow.