With our politics more divided and bitter than ever, it is increasingly important not to lose sight of the challenges facing Kentuckians and how we can come together to solve them.

As state representative for the 20th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives, I often hear from the people I represent here in Bowling Green about the issues that keep them up at night. One of the most urgent: a health care system that is broken, unaffordable and stacked against working families.

I’m proud to sponsor a new bill to make our health care system work better for Kentuckians trying to access the care they need. Currently, Bill Request 180, my bill would prevent insurance companies from being able to deny someone health coverage because of a preexisting medical condition.

Preexisting conditions can mean all sorts of medical issues, such as asthma, diabetes, lupus, COPD, sleep apnea, heart disease and cancer, among many others. As the mom of a son with Type 1 diabetes, this is deeply personal to me. I can’t imagine if Alex was denied life-saving health insurance because of his diabetes, with which he was diagnosed as a toddler.

Even being a woman has often counted as a preexisting condition. Pregnancy and other women’s health issues have often resulted in higher insurance costs or denial of coverage altogether. We have to end sex discrimination in health care costs. No one should ever be charged more for the same health insurance just because of a pregnancy.

If this idea sounds familiar, it should: The Affordable Care Act banned insurance companies from denying coverage to people because of a preexisting condition when it was passed in 2010. Unfortunately, these protections have come under constant attack. Several years ago, they came within a few votes in Congress of being repealed entirely, and Gov. Matt Bevin and his allies have joined lawsuits to try to repeal these protections in court. Andy Beshear has promised to sign these protections into law if elected governor, but the state legislature must take action first.

If the federal law is ever dismantled, working families across Kentucky, and people like my son Alex, will once again be left defenseless against giant health insurance companies that have no qualms about denying coverage if it boosts their bottom line. We have to pass these health care protections at the state level to protect Kentuckians from losing their insurance because of preexisting health conditions. My bill would do that.

Four states have already passed these protections and Kentucky should join them. We consistently rank near or at the bottom of national averages in overall health, and our families cannot afford to lose life-saving coverage on the whims of a giant insurance company. I’m sponsoring this bill because our people deserve a health care system that works for them, not against them. This is simply the right thing to do.

– State Rep. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, represents House District 20 in the Kentucky General Assembly.

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