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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Prohibit Preexisting Condition Exclusions Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Valerie Vainieri Huttle to protect patients with preexisting health conditions in the event the Affordable Care Act is repealed or altered cleared its first legislative hurdle with approval by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

“The Affordable Care Act helped to break down the wall between patients with preexisting conditions and their ability to obtain quality healthcare coverage,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “If the Affordable Care Act is ever amended or repealed, and pretexting exclusions are allowed under new policies, many patients will once again be cut off from access to the healthcare they may desperately need.

“This bill ensures prohibition on insurers excluding coverage for preexisting conditions, putting certain waiting periods on coverage, or using a preexisting condition as a factor in setting premiums, would continue to be prohibited in New Jersey.”

The bill (A-4877) clarifies that health insurance providers are not to impose, or include in its insurance policies, any provision excluding coverage for a preexisting condition. The bill also would provide that an insurer will not include any preexisting condition as a factor in calculating the premium.

While the federal Affordable Care Act mandates that health insurers, except in certain grandfathered plans, may not include exclusion for a preexisting condition in any insurance policy, New Jersey law was never changed to align with federal law. The bill revises the New Jersey law concerning group health insurance, the Individual Health Coverage Program, the Small Employer Health Benefits Program, hospital confinement plans, and certain hospital, medical, and health Service Corporation plans to conform to current federal law regarding preexisting conditions.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. The Assembly Speaker will now give it further consideration.