Health Care Report: Could Half of Americans Have “Red Flag” Preexisting Conditions?

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A new report released Tuesday by the Secretary of Health and Human Services says that as many as one in two non-senior Americans have a medical condition that could lead them to be denied health care coverage.

The report was propitiously released the same morning Congress started considering plans to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, whose formal name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The floor debate is the culmination of a years’ long campaign against the reform, sometimes known as Obamacare. And given the Republican victory in the midterm elections, a repeal measure to throw out the whole reform might just be sent to the Upper Chamber.

But if it makes it through, it’s then expected to die in the still-Democratic controlled Senate.

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As the legislation is being gradually phased in, the stipulation that insurance companies can’t reject you because of a “preexisting condition” isn’t set to take effect until 2014. Until then, and for the foreseeable future if a repeal push is successful, conditions such as asthma and high blood pressure will continue to invite the rejection letter from the insurance companies.

Because of the timing of its release, the HHS report is already being criticized as playing politics with health. Indeed, the likely failure of a total repeal will do little to cool the flames surrounding health care. Opponents of health care reform should be expected to continue to pursue other means, whether it’s scaling back provisions one by one, or refusing to cooperate on the state level.

(More on See the health care battle on the state level)

But history suggests that once major social legislation becomes law – and Americans grow accustomed to its protections – it becomes part of the permanent national culture. Social Security was widely controversial at the time of its passage, but it has survived every major challenge since its inception in 1935.