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Lawmakers want voters to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A group of Republican lawmakers in the Missouri Legislature are pushing constitutional amendments protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions

Sen. Karla Eslinger, House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, and Rep. Brenda Shields have all filed legislation in their respective chambers that would prohibit insurance companies from denying benefits or coverage or charging extra to people with pre-existing conditions. The legislation would need to be approved by voters in 2022 to go into effect. 

“No Missourian should be penalized for having a pre-existing condition,” Eslinger said. “We are living in uncertain economic challenges, and this measure would ensure countless working families are guaranteed coverage if they lose access to job-based insurance while our economy recovers.” 

Eslinger, a new senator, filed SJR 26 which defines pre-existing conditions as present before enrollment in a health benefit plan even if medical advice, care, diagnosis, or treatment is not recommended or received beforehand. 

In the lower chamber, Plocher is behind HJR 50 and Shields has HJR 51

“This is a commonsense measure that protects Missourians who deserve equitable access to health insurance, and I hope the legislature joins us in acting swiftly this session to place this important issue before voters,” Plocher said. 

“Missouri communities are stronger and more prosperous when our citizens are healthy,” Shields said. “Strengthening these protections will help our most vulnerable citizens whether they are cancer survivors or suffer from asthma.”

The measures would be before voters in the November 2022 election and would take effect in 2023. An estimated 1.2 million Missourians between 18-64 years old have been diagnosed with pre-existing conditions, according to a press release. 

While the country continues to suffer from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, health care and liability legislation have driven the start of this legislative session. Tuesday night, senators remained locked in a filibuster over COVID liability legislation meant to protect businesses.