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May 9, 2019

Rep. Pressley Upholds Healthcare Justice for Women

WASHINGTON  – During debate on HR 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions of 2019, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) introduced an amendment that would ensure that the 67 million American women and girls living with a pre-existing conditions would receive the services they need, when they need it, and without the looming fear of financial ruin. These pre-existing conditions include pregnancy, breast cancer and HIV, among others. H.R. 986 overturns the damaging guidance issued by the Trump Administration that would weaken the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) critical protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Congresswoman Pressley’s amendment passed and will be included in the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions legislation:


I rise today in support of my amendment to H.R. 986, the Protecting Patients with Pre-existing Conditions Act.

Quality, affordable healthcare is a fundamental human right. Period. No one should have to face financial ruin while they’re fighting for their life. When people are using Go Fund Me pages to pay their medical bills, when parents are burying their children who rationed their insulin to pay their student loans – we know that we are in the midst of a moral crisis. And yet, we must contend with an administration that is determined to roll back these rights and protections.

Each of us has loved ones whose lives are put in conditional jeopardy when we erode protections for pre-existing conditions. These efforts put lives at risk and we’re here today to fight back.

In my district, the Massachusetts 7th, half of the residents are living with pre-existing conditions. Families are struggling with some of the highest per capita health care costs in the nation, even as they live in the shadow of some of the best health care institutions in the world. In my district, travel 3 miles from Back Bay to Roxbury and life expectancy drops 30 years. Three. Zero.  Since its implementation, the ACA has provided critical protections for the nearly 3 million residents of Massachusetts living with pre-existing conditions.

Our families, our neighbors, and our communities are depending on us to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And we can do that today by passing H.R. 986.

Mr. Chair, my amendment to H.R. 986 affirms that women’s health care isn’t optional. It is an essential benefit every plan must cover.  At a time when more than 67 million American women and girls are living with a pre-existing condition we cannot ━ no, we will not go backwards. At a time when life expectancy is declining because of gun violence, opioid use, and a maternal mortality crisis, we cannot afford to compromise on these essential services.

Before the ACA, typical insurance plans considered maternity care a ‘luxury’ benefit and women consistently paid more for primary care than men. In fact, women who had given birth, had a c-section, were living with HIV or a previous breast cancer diagnosis could be considered to have preexisting conditions and denied coverage. Thanks to the ACA, many women who were previously uninsured gained health coverage, including vital access to preventative care.

This administration’s cruel and dangerous guidance would weaken these provisions and allow insurers to sell skimpy plans that can exclude coverage like maternity care and pediatric services.

The ACA is our floor not our ceiling. We must continue to fight for universal healthcare. We must continue to push for a healthcare system that meets the needs of the people we represent. A health care system that sees all people, hears all people, and cares for all people in a way that promotes safety, dignity, and respect.

I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.


Yesterday, Congresswoman Pressley introduced the Healthy MOMMIES Act, a maternal health bill that extends Medicaid coverage from 2-months to a full year after childbirth, and would increase access to culturally-competent community-based doula services during and after pregnancy.