Oops...Preexisting Conditions Still Exist for Kids

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A wrinkle in health care reform, and President Obama's advertisements of it, pointed out by the AP: under the new law, insurers will still be able to deny coverage to children on the basis of preexisting conditions until 2014:

Under the new law, insurance companies still would be able to refuse new coverage to children because of a pre-existing medical problem, said Karen Lightfoot, spokeswoman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the main congressional panels that wrote the bill Obama signed into law Tuesday.

However, if a child is accepted for coverage, or is already covered, the insurer cannot exclude payment for treating a particular illness, as sometimes happens now. For example, if a child has asthma, the insurance company cannot write a policy that excludes that condition from coverage. The new safeguard will be in place later this year.

Full protection for children would not come until 2014, said Kate Cyrul, a spokeswoman for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, another panel that authored the legislation. That's the same year when insurance companies could no longer deny coverage to any person on account of health problems.

The problem with this is that Obama pledged an immediate end to preexisting conditions for kids in pro-health-reform stump speeches leading up to the vote. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the AP reports, is working to issue new regulations to clarify language and get the preexisting-conditions provision enacted immediately.

Just one of those things that has to get ironed out after Congress passes 2,000+ pages of legislation...

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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