Va. State Delegate Tim Hugo voted 16 times in only 2 years for bills in the state legislature that allow insurance providers to deny health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
Hugo represents Virginia’s 40th district in the House of Delegates, which encompasses parts of Fairfax and Prince William Counties.
In February 2019, Hugo voted to advance SB 1240, which would have allowed insurance providers to sell short-term insurance plans. Short-term insurance plans are typically exempt from Affordable Care Act regulations and are not required to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions. Governor Ralph Northam vetoed the bill in March 2019, stating “This legislation undermines an individual’s right to quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care coverage. This would result in many Virginians being underinsured. Short-term, limited-duration plans are allowed to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions, impose lifetime and annual caps, and are not required to provide essential health benefits.”
In another case, Hugo voted to advance SB 1027 in February 2019, a bill that would allow for the sale of “catastrophic” health insurance plans that Governor Northam vetoed in March 2019, stating “This legislation would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums.”
Hugo’s many votes for these short-term and “catastrophic” insurance plans coincide with the Virginia Delegate’s long history of taking money from donors working within the health care industry.
Between 2002 and 2019, Hugo has taken a total of $284,988 from donors within the healthcare industry, including over $83,000 from donors affiliated with HMO’s and hospitals.
In 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the Executive Branch to spur the expansion of short-term limited-duration insurance plans, and in 2018 the administration issued a ruling stating that these plans are “generally exempt from the federal Market Requirements” that prohibit denial of essential health benefits, and pre-existing condition exclusions.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, because of this executive order, short-term plans are not required to abide by regulations set forth by the Affordable Care Act prohibiting discrimination in coverage of patients with pre-existing conditions. As well, the Foundation notes that short-term plans would cause individuals with pre-existing conditions to “face higher premiums” and potentially face discrimination in premium pricing.
In 2015, 26% of Virginia’s non-elderly population had pre-existing conditions that would disqualify them from coverage under a health care plan that is not required to follow the standards for coverage by the Affordable Care Act
Hugo is running for re-election this fall to represent Virginia’s 40th district.