Letters to the Editor

If Trumpcare becomes law, pre-existing protections will vanish

Linda Miller protests the U.S. House passage of the plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act at the south gate of the Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Friday May 5, 2017.
Linda Miller protests the U.S. House passage of the plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act at the south gate of the Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Friday May 5, 2017. AP

The Affordable Care Act specifically protected against discrimination for pre-existing conditions that showed up through genetic tests. You might not be sick yet — in technical terms, the illness has not manifested — but if you, for example, test positive for one of the pathogenic variants or “mutations” in the BRCA gene that predisposes you to breast cancer, you could still get covered. If the House bill becomes law, that protection vanishes.

I have two friends who survived breast cancer because of the ACA. They had no idea that they had cancer, but their doctors insisted that they get mammograms because both of their mothers had the disease. They both made it through their ordeals, but their outcomes would have been dire had they been denied coverage under Trumpcare.

Breast cancer is only one example of how pre-existing conditions can cause denial of medical coverage. The more you know about genetics, the more conditions start to look pre-existing.

“You could say all of us have a pre-existing condition of import, and it’s just a matter of when we’re going to manifest it,” says Eric Topol, a genomicist at the Scripps Research Institute. “Very few of us are genetically bulletproof.”

Jill Stegman, Atascadero

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