It’s certainly nice to see huge support out there for House Bill 2126, which ensures that key Affordable Care Act provisions will continue for Hawaii residents, even if the federal government finally succeeds in destroying them. Representatives Lynn DeCoite, D–Hana, Lanai, Molokai, and Angus McKelvey, D–West Maui, were among the bill’s many introducers.
“The purpose of this bill is to ensure that coverage for health insurance is available to residents and that certain benefits created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) will continue to exist if the ACA is repealed,” said Gordon Ito, Insurance Commissioner for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, in his Feb. 12 testimony before the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce (CPC). “This bill serves as a basis for further collaboration between stakeholders to address the complexities of the health care system and the uncertainty of the future of the ACA. Furthermore, this bill serves as a needed mechanism to retain people in the market and would have marketwide applicability. It also seeks to provide needed health coverage to as many residents as possible to stabilize the health insurance marketplace.”
Seriously, everyone it seems likes this bill–the League of Women Voters, all Hawaii’s major health insurers, medical professionals and so on. But there’s a small problem–on Feb. 6, the House Committee on Health and Human Services removed the bill’s original provision that extends dependent coverage of children until they turn 26. Testimony before the House CPC Committee on Feb. 12 was still in favor of the bill, but many testifiers were clearly alarmed at the change.
“Before the ACA, young adults had the highest uninsured rates of any age group and the lowest rate of access to employer-based insurance,” UH Manoa student and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai‘i intern Tiffany Peek testified on Feb. 12. “Many in my age range, while attending school full-time, are only able to work part-time, sometimes at minimum wage. Part-timers are generally not qualified to receive employer insurance, and clearly the money we earn is not nearly enough to afford health insurance on top of food, tuition, and housing, especially in Hawai‘i. Please reconsider putting back the provision that would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26. Without it, young people, students and otherwise, would be put at a further disadvantage and return to the days before the ACA, in which many young adults simply went uninsured and gambled on their health.”
Given that the bill passed out of the CPC Committee unanimously on Feb. 12, there’s still time for the age 26 provision to get back into the bill. Maybe.