October 6th, 2009
03:28 PM ET
5 years ago

Dems vow to ban domestic violence as 'pre-existing condition'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Top House Democrats on Tuesday slammed insurers who claim that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition that can be used to deny coverage to battered women.

They pledged to incorporate a ban on the practice in the health care reform legislation currently winding its way through Congress.

Forty-two states have already passed such a prohibition, according to a recent report from the National Women's Law Center. Idaho, Mississippi, North
Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and the District of Columbia have not, however.

"Think of this," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "You've survived domestic violence, and now you are discriminated (against) in the insurance market because you have a pre-existing medical condition. Well, that will all be gone."


A spokesman for an association representing health insurance companies backed the proposed change.

"No one should be denied coverage because they are a victim of domestic abuse," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans.

We "strongly support (a variation of) legislation that prohibits discrimination against victims of abuse and we are urging all states to promptly adopt it."

Some reform advocates say the proposed federal action, while a positive step, does not go far enough.

"We have to go further and take affirmative steps to reach out to battered women who may have been denied coverage to let them know the landscape has changed and there may be insurance options available to them," said Shelley Senterfitt, a representative of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

"We need to fix the damage that's been done," she said.

–CNN's Mary Snow and Shirley Zilberstein contributed to this report


Filed under: Health care • House Democrats • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Obama Victim

    on the surface, seems like a good idea..................but if Pelosi...and I disappove of her very existence.....is involved.......it can't be good

    October 6, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. victim of republican greed

    Each day, we learn more and more of just how sleazy the insurance companies are and what they do to ensure they do not have to pay out claims.

    We need Health insurance reform now.

    October 6, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Doesn't the health care plan ban denial of coverage for ANY pre-existing condition? So why isn't this redundant other than to try to score political points?

    October 6, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Wait a second! 42 of the 50 states have already stopped this and the remaining ones are small population states. So what is Pelosi grandstanding about?

    So for most Americans it will mean no change. But she sure sounds good.

    Americans on the average are easily distracted apparently. Hey look – something shiny!

    October 6, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Tannim

    Must be Stopped-Clock Syndrome. Pelosi got one right for a change.

    October 6, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. Insurance Companies Are Mental

    We're ready for the insurance companies. Most domestic violence is done by men, mostly me run the insurance companies. Yeah, let them try to say domestic violence is a pre-existing condition, we will be ready for them. BRING IT ON.

    October 6, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I can hear the right screaming to the top of their lungs about this provision.

    October 6, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    Go ahead GOPers, find something negative to say about this...it's not like all of womenkind in America shouldn't already be angry at you for inflicting Palin on us, thereby setting them back 100 years. You've pretty much ruined it for yourselves with any thinking woman in the country, so please, let fly at this proposal too.

    October 6, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Uh oh...McDonnell is going to flip his lid...

    October 6, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Oh Yeah? Bring It On

    Here's a thought, why can't the insurance companies cancell the insurance of the batterers. Why should the victims be victimized again? Think people.

    October 6, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Caesar the Great

    Glad that they are making this be a huge deal. Make the states pass the legislation, 42 of 51 already have. Quit stalling Dems and admit, you just dont have the votes cuz the plans stink.

    October 6, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. Glenda, MS

    The condition wasn't pre-exisiting before someone abused the victim. Are the insurance companies crazy? This is why we need a public option.

    The lunatics have been let out of the crazy house. Catch them before they reach D.C.

    October 6, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    If domestic violence is a pre-existing condition, maybe the death penalty for the abusers would eradicate this scourge. It's a sure-fire way to eliminate it.

    October 6, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. Peoples Voice

    If that does not teach you that we should keep the insurance companies in charge then nothing will.

    We don't need no stinking health care reform.

    October 6, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. SC-Dem

    Insurance Companies are the real "SOCIALISTS" and the PUBS are 100% for them!

    October 6, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Is being a hate monger considered a pre existing condition exempting you from health care? It is a mental disease isn't it?

    October 6, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. victim of republican greed

    Don't count on getting Republican support on this one.

    October 6, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. Ryan, Council Bluffs

    Meet them half way drop it as a pre-existing condition if they have left the offender. This subject is disgusting, but it is preventable and it is not natural or inherited. None of the victims asked for it, but they can walk away and get a way from it.

    October 6, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. Bedtime for Obonzo

    This is a red herring. Six states (out of 50) lack laws that mandate coverage for domestic violence (surprising, as states love mandating all sorts of coverage). Those six states have, simply, never experienced a problem with domestic violence being treated by insurers as a preexisting condition.

    October 6, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Minnesotan

    I sense conflict within the GOP trollers here. You guys must be scratching your heads on how to chalk this one up to somehow being bad or negative. In fact, some of you are pointing to the 42 out 50 stat already as proof its a waste of time. One moron even claimed 42 out of 51!?!?!
    But, its morally wrong what these insurance companies are doing regardless and this crap is only the tip of the ice berg. So, the party of Jesus, please do what's right and take a principled stand against this insane practice. And keep this in mind if you still reject common sense here... the only reason 42 states out 50 ban the practice is because of "REGULATIONS"!!! Eeeeckk!! That nasty word...so scary! So keep pointing out that regulations work... that's fine with me. And for those of you that don't want to realize this... without the "regulations" the free market would have kept on commiting this evil practice against victims of domestic violence.

    October 6, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. PainfulTruth

    Im not saying insurance companies are boyscouts but this seems like cheap politics. Just because those states have not specifically outlawed the practice does not mean it actually happens. Ive read several articles on this topic and none of them give an example of a domestic violence victim being denied health insurance.

    October 6, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  22. Republicans is smart in the head area

    Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming are all Red States. Certain the Republicans don't want to alienate the crucial wife beater vote.

    October 6, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  23. patNY

    I fear that the more insurance companies are precluded from disclaiming coverage, resulting in the more they have to cover...premiums will not go down, but instead, will skyrocket!

    October 6, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. single mom

    Instead of grandstanding, why don't the Dems go after the states and DC and pressure their legislatures to push this through as fast as they did the Governor-gets-to-pick change in Massachusetts?

    October 6, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Glenn McCoy

    Listen up: THIS is why the GOP wants us all to be able to buy insurance across state lines. So Neanderthal Healthco can set up in Wyoming and pull this kind of stuff off all over the country. Profits trump morality every time.

    October 6, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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