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KY Residents with Pre-Existing Health Conditions Worry Over ACA's Fate

Nearly 1.8 million Kentuckians live with pre-existing conditions, including cancer, asthma and diabetes. (Adobe Stock)
Nearly 1.8 million Kentuckians live with pre-existing conditions, including cancer, asthma and diabetes. (Adobe Stock)
March 11, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentuckians living with diabetes, cancer, asthma and other chronic health conditions are worried about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, which bans insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions.

Gov. Andy Beshear has announced his support for House Bill 21, introduced by Rep. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, and 38 other legislators that would prevent denial of coverage to the nearly 1.8 million people in the Commonwealth living with pre-existing conditions.

Lexington resident Amanda Perkins, who has Type 1 diabetes, said she sees the bill as a safety net.

"The anxiety and the fear that you have when you don't think that you are going to be able to pay for your life-sustaining medication is very real," she said. "It's consuming. It can take up all your time and all of your thoughts."

Before the Affordable Care Act, Perkins said, she often was denied coverage or was told she could get a policy that didn't cover her diabetes.

If the ACA is overturned, House Bill 21 would require both private and public insurers to continue covering Kentuckians with pre-existing conditions. It has seen a couple of amendments since being introduced in January.

The bill also would ban price-gouging and long waiting periods to obtain health coverage.

Janet Sue Peterson Blyth, who lives in Madison County, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, a few years ago. She said she never imagined having to navigate the health-care system with a pre-existing condition.

"You know, in a lot of cases, in my situation, I have no idea how I got CLL. It wasn't anything that I did," she said. "It is definitely a problem, and it is a problem even when you're on Medicare."

This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case filed by Texas and 20 other states that could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

The text of HB 21 is online at legislature.ky.gov.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY