What if you had to choose between making insurance more affordable for Americans with pre-existing conditions or funding lobbyists and political hacks? That’s the decision the House will face when it considers H.R. 1549, the Helping Sick Americans Now Act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. It should be an easy choice.

Earlier this month, Susan Zurface of Hillsboro, Ohio testified before Rep. Pitts’s health subcommittee. “With my newly diagnosed illness, I was unable to find any health insurance coverage that would cost less than $350/month with a $10,000 deductible,” the chronic lymphocytic leukemia patient said. The federal Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was supposed to be there for people like her, but the administration closed it to new enrollees on March 2, citing a lack of funding.

The news stunned a woman identified by the Washington Post as Joyce, a 61-year-old Virginian with stage-four breast cancer, who saw the announcement and rushed to get her application in before the cut-off. I don’t know whether Joyce was able to make the deadline or not, but I do know there are an estimated 40,000 other sick Americans, including Ms. Zurface, who will not be able to enroll if the program remains closed.

Continue reading →