October 6th, 2009
03:28 PM ET
11 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. Steve (the real one)

    ALL of Congress needs to get on board! For any insurance company to define domestic violence as a pre-existing condition is noting short of sick and cruel! As for the doubters (you 2 know who you are) why is this political?

    October 6, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. John

    Let Americans take a national vote for Public Option. Public Option would win 80% to 20%. Ins. Companies know this. I can't understand why you would allow someone who has Gov. insurance tell you with a straight face that it is no good. They tell you to go pay for private ins. while theirs will be free for the rest of their lives.

    October 6, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Navy Vet

    Think that's bad? My niece was dropped for her "pre-existing" condition of acne. Who'd thought that having acne at 16 would come back to haunt you at 30. Coincidentally it was when she was in need of an operation after having the insurance for 5 years.

    October 6, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Josie

    Are the Democrats also going to pass legislation that says everyone should be happy?

    October 6, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. gt

    throw in a little prison time and see if this disease cure its self

    October 6, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. Hugo

    Good Lord, what a victory...Domestic Violence banned as a pre-existing condition, what a milestone win for the House and Senate, yeah Nancy, now go domestically violate yourself!!? Perhaps if the liberal lawyers would get off our Constitution the State courts could handle domestic violence offenders where it would not be such a repetitive chronic condition of whoop ass. Why don't the Democrats look at Tort law reform, Fair practice regulation for insurance companies and maybe just maybe enforcing our Federal Immigration laws instead of making up Federal laws to circumvent State courts from taking action against criminals, all in the name of broadening voter base? STATE RIGHTS UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION, ANYONE EVER HEARD OF IT?

    October 6, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Duck Fallas

    The white ringers have just added to their list of people they have no tolerance for:

    ... and now, WOMEN!

    This is a misunderstanding. The REAL pre-existing condition is the inability to listen. That is, if she would LISTEN to me, I wouldn't have to slap her.

    Stop "negotiating" with these morons.

    October 6, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. seebofubar

    You are not seeing the deception here. On the surface it looks like Pelosi is trying to solve a problem, but I'll bet that if you look into it there are no insurance companies that have this exclusion. No where in this report or in her oration does she mention that this is a real problem.

    October 6, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. TH - ATL

    Anyone who has had something happen to them in the past, is considered to have a pre-existing condition. Domestic abuse is cause by more democrats then anything else because of their low-life status.

    October 6, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. gl, From Pittsburgh

    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.


    October 6, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Victim of Liberal stupidity

    Please remember the other aspects of healthcare doctrine that Democrats have mandated for private citizenry in healthcare on the State level (Vermont), like that hair plugs be a provided coverage in their healthcare policies. How about if you don't want it, you don't have to buy it...

    October 6, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Chandler

    It is an outrage that not only is this is currenlty happening, but that Republican Congress persons are defending this practice by obstructing health care reform!

    They are willing to sacrifice their constituents's health, just so they can still rake in the lobbying money from the health insurance industry. It is so inhumane, there are no words for it.


    October 6, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. LacrosseMom(stuck in moderation)

    How can domestic violence be a preexisting condition? Nuts.

    45, 000 Americans DIE every year from lack of healthcare.

    IF 45,000 Americans died every year from terrorist attacks, you can bet that the GOP would be rioting in the streets and demanding we nuke the Middle-East.

    However, 45,000 Americans DIE every year from lack of healthcare and that is OK with the Republicans!


    October 6, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. GA Resident

    As a woman who voluteers with a domestic violence shelter, I am appalled that evil insurance companies would call domestic violence a "pre-existing condition" in order to avoid payment and equally disappointed that some states allow this practice. That's like battering the victim all over again.

    October 6, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Steph

    I find it interesting and sad that the right wingers here are arguing against this measure just because Nancy Pelosi is bringing it to the floor. Very, very sad!

    October 6, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. chris

    This is why I trust govt over Health Insurance CEO's (death panels) as they are less interested in profits...

    October 6, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Connie, Indiana

    If the insurance companies are not pulled in, they will exclude people who have had hang nails..If they think it may or will cost them money, you bet your bones they will exclude them..and the more they exclude they will have to raise premiums to counter-balance for the ones they exclude. Gotta keep the money train moving..

    October 6, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. walleye

    It turns out that in eight states, plus the District of Columbia, getting beaten up by your spouse is a pre-existing condition.
    Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you're more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.
    In human terms, it's a second punishment for a victim of domestic violence.
    In 2006, Democrats tried to end the practice. An amendment introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), now a member of leadership, split the Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee 10-10. The tie meant that the measure failed.
    All ten no votes were Republicans, including Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), a member of the "Gang of Six" on the Finance Committee who are hashing out a bipartisan bill.

    October 6, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Wake Up

    Understand, that 42 states already passed this...so obviously this is feel good garbage. You libs don't understand, that other govt. entities make policy...not just congress and king obama.

    October 6, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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