Domestic Abuse: A Pre-existing Condition

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Insurers in eight states consider domestic violence to be a pre-existing condition, as Ryan Grim of HuffPo reported in this excellent piece. One of them is Mississippi. So the Jackson Free Press spoke to the state’s top regulator, Mike Chaney, to find out how this happened. Chaney blamed the legislature:

“Would I do something about it? Hell, yeah, I’d do something about it, but I’m a regulator, not a legislator. I have to come to terms with that every week,” Chaney said. “The whole situation is bad. Let’s say a woman works with a company that had Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and she gets beat up in her house and Blue Cross says ‘we’re not covering you because getting beat up is your pre-existing condition.’ That’s terrible.”

 

So what do the lawmakers say? Here’s GOP state senator Dean Kirby, until relatively recently the chair of the insurance Committee:

“I didn’t even know we allowed for them to deny coverage due to domestic abuse,” Kirby said. “I wonder how long that’s been on the books, because I certainly didn’t pass it, and I’ve been on the committee for 12 years,” Kirby said. “I would think that the chairman of the insurance committees in the House and Senate would consider seriously changing that law.”

As Grim noted, in 2006 Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) tried to make it illegal to declare domestic abuse a pre-existing condition. But her measure got killed by 10 Republicans—one, Mike Enzi, said such a regulation would make insurance too expensive for everyone else. Murray’s trying again in this year’s health care reform push.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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