The White House and allies are trying to build support for health reform by emphasizing exactly how horrific insurance company discrimination against "pre-existing conditions" can be. One example: In Washington, D.C. and eight states, domestic violence is considered a pre-existing condition. And as Ryan Grim reports at the Huffington Post, one of the Republicans in the influential Gang of Six, Mike Enzi, has a history of support for insurance companies' discrimination against domestic violence victims:
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. A spokesman for Enzi didn't immediately return a call from Huffington Post.
At the time, Enzi defended his vote by saying that such regulations could increase the price of insurance and make it out of reach for more people. "If you have no insurance, it doesn't matter what services are mandated by the state," he said, according to a CQ Today item from March 15th, 2006.
Grim points out that America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry trade group, is currently promising to end the practice. But they made a similar vow during the 1993 reform push under Bill Clinton, and never followed through. That's because to truly regulate the insurance industry, we need a much stronger role for government, and a move toward universal coverage.