Sen. Karla Eslinger

33rd District Sen. Karla Eslinger

Sen. Karla Eslinger, of the 33rd District, has filed a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution to ensure preexisting conditions are covered by health insurance companies in the state.

“No Missourian should be penalized for having a preexisting condition,” Eslinger told the Quill on Friday. “I think this amendment will safeguard Missourians with preexisting conditions, especially during these uncertain times.”

She added that she believes this to be a “no-brainer” issue that pretty much everyone on both sides of the aisle can agree with.

Even though the exclusions against preexisting conditions have been prohibited in the U.S. since January 2014, after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Eslinger says she wants to make sure it’s put into the state constitution for an extra level of protection.

“We want to make sure we have this, in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns it (ACA),” Eslinger explained.

She pointed out there are studies that estimate that over 1.2 million Missourians between ages 18 and 64 have preexisting conditions, and with COVID-19 causing problems for those who didn’t even know they had it, she thinks that number could be higher.

Eslinger’s proposed amendment would preclude insurance companies from denying coverage, excluding benefits or charging more to children and adults with preexisting conditions.

She added that the amendment would also allow children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26.

If approved by the Senate and the House, the amendment will be presented to voters on the ballot for the November 2022 general election, and if passed by voters, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

It has been one month since Eslinger, a Republican from Wasola in Ozark County, was sworn in for 33rd District State Senate seat, replacing Republican Mike Cunningham, of Rogersville, who served the maximum number of terms allowed by state law.

Previously, Eslinger represented the 155th House District, and she said it’s been an interesting change to move from representing two and a half counties to eight counties.

“We’ve been working hard to make sure people are getting the support services they need,” Eslinger said, referring to herself and her staff.

As far as future legislation, Eslinger says she intends to focus on workforce development and education.

“It’s important that when kids leave school they have all the tools they need to be productive once they enter the workforce,” she said.

Eslinger has an office in West Plains at 35 Court Square, Room 303. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. The office phone number is 596-9011.

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