On April 27-29, 2009, members of the bleeding disorders community returned to Capitol Hill to press members of Congress on raising lifetime health insurance caps. These caps, which are frequently as low as $1 million or $2 million, are a serious issue for people with hemophilia and other high-cost chronic conditions. The National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) has been working with a broad range of patient groups, industry and others to address this problem by promoting federal legislation to raise these caps. The bills, S. 442 and H.R. 1085, were introduced by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), respectively. The legislation increases lifetime caps on private health insurance plans to a minimum of $10 million and provides an annual update for inflation thereafter.
The legislation got its first big push back in February when more than 300 people affected by bleeding disorders met with legislators as part of NHF’s annual Washington Days advocacy event. On Monday, April 27th, NHF in conjunction with the “Raise the Cap Coalition” organized a briefing for legislative staff at the recently opened Capitol Visitors Center. It featured patient advocates Paul Brayshaw, who spoke about his challenges as a person with hemophilia dealing with lifetime insurance caps, and Marjorie Crigler, who talked about how her brother exceeded a $1 million insurance cap and ultimately incurred more than $3 million in medical expenses in just a few years following a stroke and many complications.
The briefing also featured Dr. Jack Rodgers who led the team at PriceWaterCoopers that produced a recent report on lifetime caps on behalf of NHF and the coalition. The report demonstrated that raising lifetime caps would add only a negligible amount to what most Americans pay for insurance, while saving the government billions of dollars in reduced Medicaid costs.
(click here to view a previous eNotes story on the PriceWaterhouseCoopers study).
Following the briefing, coalition members met with members and staff from the five committees in the House and Senate with jurisdiction over healthcare reform. During the three days, 45 meetings were conducted, with many expressing interest in supporting the legislation itself and in ensuring that the broader healthcare reform process addresses the issue of lifetime caps.
The lifetime caps effort got an additional boost the same week when on April 28th Politico, a DC-based newspaper and Web site popular with Washington insiders, featured an advertorial supplement sponsored by the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA). The supplement included an NHF-authored piece that discussed the legislation and highlighted one family’s struggle with lifetime caps. Other articles in the supplement discussed a variety of issues of concern to users of plasma protein therapies. The online version of the lifetime caps piece as well as the rest of the supplement can be viewed here: http://www.politico.com/ppta/higher-lifetime-insurance-caps-needed.html
NHF needs your help to make the case for raising lifetime health insurance caps. Even if you can’t join us in Washington, you can make a difference by writing or calling your elected representatives in Washington. The more voices we have on this issue, the better our chances of pushing it through.
Urge your elected officials to support raising lifetime insurance caps. Personalize and send e-mails to both your representatives and senators now!