DeMint Opposes Gov’t Mandate for Pre-Existing Conditions Coverage in Health Care

By Dan Joseph | November 16, 2010 | 4:03 AM EST

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) ( Starr)

( Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) does not back a government mandate that would force insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions.

In an interview with on Monday at the “November Speaks” rally on Capitol Hill, sponsored by the conservative group Americans For Prosperity, DeMint said that forcing insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions is not necessary.

“We don’t need to do that,” said DeMint. “We have examples of what they call high-risk pools at the state level that create an option for people with pre-existing conditions.  A few states are doing that really well.  What we need to do is multiply that over all the states.” 

Apart from causing premiums to rise for all Americans to cover people with pre-existing conditions, as the Democrats’ legislation is already causing, DeMint said he would not go along with a plan to force insurers to cover those who were already sick, because similar mandates have been enacted in other nations, and they have failed.

“What we found in other countries is, once you do that, people don’t buy insurance until they’re sick,” said DeMint.  “So that’s not something I’d support.”

In the “Pledge to America,” a set of promises to the American people laid down in writing prior to the November election, the House Republican leadership wrote that it would “ensure that those with pre-existing conditions gain access to the coverage they need.” 

This pledge was made despite a repeated promise that congressional Republicans would repeal the Democrats’ health care bill in its entirety, including the pre-existing conditions mandate, as soon as repeal was possible.

It is unclear whether DeMint, who has often found himself at odds with the GOP Senate leadership, is on the same page as his Senate and House colleagues when it comes to assuring that individuals with pre-existing conditions can get access to health insurance.

DeMint addressed a crowd largely made up of Tea Party members, calling for congressional Democrats to refrain from pushing through a liberal agenda during the lame duck session of Congress.

DeMint was joined by Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.), Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and several newly elected Republican congressmen who will take their seats after Jan. 3, 2011. 

“The only reason I’m here today – and a lot of you thanked me on the way in – is to thank you,” DeMint told the crowd. “What you’ve done is given us, me, Mike Pence, Michelle, others, the power to change things. Because the only power we have here in Washington is the power of ideas and the millions of people who are standing behind us.”