WASHINGTON (CNN) — Top House Democrats on Tuesday slammed insurers who claim that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition that can be used to deny coverage to battered women.
They pledged to incorporate a ban on the practice in the health care reform legislation currently winding its way through Congress.
Forty-two states have already passed such a prohibition, according to a recent report from the National Women's Law Center. Idaho, Mississippi, North
Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and the District of Columbia have not, however.
"Think of this," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "You've survived domestic violence, and now you are discriminated (against) in the insurance market because you have a pre-existing medical condition. Well, that will all be gone."
A spokesman for an association representing health insurance companies backed the proposed change.
"No one should be denied coverage because they are a victim of domestic abuse," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans.
We "strongly support (a variation of) legislation that prohibits discrimination against victims of abuse and we are urging all states to promptly adopt it."
Some reform advocates say the proposed federal action, while a positive step, does not go far enough.
"We have to go further and take affirmative steps to reach out to battered women who may have been denied coverage to let them know the landscape has changed and there may be insurance options available to them," said Shelley Senterfitt, a representative of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"We need to fix the damage that's been done," she said.
What I would like to see are the names of all of the insurance companies who have employed this practice, and only now pretend to care because most states and the federal government are getting ready to ban it. Which insurance companies pay the salary of the spokesperson of America's Health Insurance Plans, much like the tobacco and alcohol industry subsidizing the Coalition for A Drug Free America, bankrolling this operation? That is what I would love to see, along with an accompanying lawsuit by the states attorney generals and our federal Attorney General against those companies for their actions (surely, a fiduciary responsibility has been violated somewhere in their refusal to uphold their contract by inventing an illegitimate "pre-existing condition" like having your significant other beat you to a pulp). I have looked up some third party and other outside sources and cannot find any names of the insurance companies who have previously done this to battered policyholders. It would be interesting to know.
What's next, making rape a pre-existing condition? How about if one of your family members was ever assaulted in a schoolyard, or if your grandparents talked to themselves after turning 65? How could anyone trust people like this (as corporations are legally considered people in the US) with our health care?