Wisconsin Patients’ Bill of Rights is unveiled at State Capitol.

Robert Kraig with Citizen Action of Wisconsin says the bill kicks off the debate about how the state will implement national health care legislation. “It begins a public discussion of whether or not we should outlaw the worst health insurance industry abuses and I think that’s a productive discussion, but it creates a legislative vehicle where legislators have to take sides: ‘Am I for discriminating against people with preexisting conditions or am I against it?'”

Under the measure, Wisconsin families would never have to worry about being denied insurance due to a preexisting condition or losing their coverage when someone gets sick. According to the Federal Health Department, many Wisconsinites could potentially be considered as having a preexisting condition. “One million people — people under 65, so excluding people who are retired — one million have a condition which the ins industry would definitely exclude them from coverage for … 2.4 million have a condition that they could either exclude them or charge a discriminatory rate.”

Kraig explains, if insurance actuaries believe that your condition increases the likelihood that you’d cost the insurance company more money, they could simply charge more, exclude you from coverage altogether, or carve out a portion of the policy. Kraig says this Patients’ Bill of Rights would guarantee everyone would be able to buy affordable health insurance coverage.

The bill is sponsored by Representative Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) and Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). It secures into state law key health care consumer and patient protections provided under the federal Affordable Care Act.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:35

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