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Pioneer Editorial: Repeal ends pre-existing

With the U.S. House poised to vote tonight on repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as the Republicans call it, the Republican-held House will seek to undo significant health care reform

Under a mantra that the health care reform measure is a "job killer," Republicans are wrongly characterizing a bill that will provide thousands of jobs.

But one of the worst characterizations is what repeal of the bill would do to people who otherwise would not have insurance. The Affordable Care Act provides insurance to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions that insurance companies would deny coverage.

Without the Affordable Care Act, up to 2.3 million non-elderly Minnesota residents who have some type of pre-existing health condition, like heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis or cancer, would be at risk of losing health insurance when they need it most, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelious said Tuesday in releasing a new report

Under the full range of policies in the Affordable Care Act to be enacted by 2014, Americans living with pre-existing conditions are free from discrimination and can get the health coverage they need, and families are free from the worry of having their insurance canceled or capped when a family member gets sick, or going broke because of the medical costs of an accident or disease. Repealing the law would once again leave millions of Americans worrying about whether coverage will be there when they need it.

Up to one in five Americans under age 65 with a pre-existing condition -- 25 million individuals -- is uninsured.

"The Affordable Care Act is stopping insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions and is giving us all more freedom and control over our health care decisions," said Secretary Sebelius.

There are many important provisions in the act, but this one has perhaps the most wide-ranging impact. The Republicans offer no solution to this problem, other than to return to where insurance companies can deny coverage, charge higher premiums or limit benefits based on pre-existing conditions. It's not a situation we want to return to, and urge Republicans to work to improve the act, not destroy it.