FARGO - Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer is being asked to defend a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that protects against discrimination by insurance firms based on pre-existing health conditions.
"No one should be denied care for a condition they were born with," state Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-District 44, said at a Democratic-NPL news conference Thursday, June 28, in Fargo.
Hanson said the Justice Department's decision to no longer defend parts of the ACA could end protections for more than 300,000 North Dakotans that prevent insurance companies from denying or dropping coverage for people with illnesses, or charging sick people and women more for insurance.
Hanson said Cramer, who is seeking Democrat Heidi Heitkamp's seat in the Senate, voted to end the ACA, but is silent on the issue of pre-existing conditions. She called on him to work on a bipartisan solution.
Tim Rasmussen, a spokesman for the Cramer for Senate campaign, said the congressman is anything but silent.
"Kevin has been rock-solid and consistent in his support for coverage of pre-existing conditions. He has repeatedly communicated his position on health care through many public channels and to say he has been silent is absurd," Rasmussen said.
Jennifer Restemayer, 44, of West Fargo, was at the event with her daughter, Allison, 17.
Due to a genetic condition, Allison uses a motorized chair to get around and needs weekly intravenous treatments to prolong her life. This year, those treatments will cost nearly $600,000
"Without those treatments, her health will go downhill very fast," Restemayer said.
"If there is a lifetime max (payout) for her," Allison wouldn't be able to afford treatments, Restemayer said. "It's unacceptable that we return to a system like this."
Sue Leake, who farms with her husband near Emerado, N.D., was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago.
Leake worries about what would happen without the ACA protections.
"I am a cancer survivor, but that doesn't stop me from lying awake at night, wondering what would happen to our family if my cancer comes back," Leake said.
Rasmussen said Cramer has always supported requiring access to adequate and affordable coverage for individuals with pre-existing health conditions.
Cramer is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has crafted many alternatives the House has provided to protect those with pre-existing conditions and patient choice. Guaranteed coverage was a centerpiece of the American Health Care Act plan the House passed earlier this year, Rasmussen said.