Congress must not forget about protecting access to affordable health care

In 2010, we worked with our Democratic counterparts to achieve historic reforms in our health care system that will finally make affordable and affordable quality health care a reality for the tens of millions of Americans who have been striving for it. COVID-19 emphasized the effectiveness of these reforms. Millions of Americans lost their jobs during this worst pandemic in a century. Due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), affordable and affordable health coverage was available to many when they needed it most. The pandemic also alleviated the need to improve and strengthen the ACA base and continue our efforts to achieve universal coverage.

That is why, immediately after President Biden was elected, we joined him and our fellow Democrats in Congress to expand coverage and reduce health care costs in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). This law increased the number of Americans with access to quality health coverage plans and made subsidies in the ACA’s health insurance markets more generous. He also provided strong incentives to expand Medicaid to states that have not yet done so.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, improved premium tax credits reduce health care spending and cover 15 million uninsured Americans, reduce the cost of coverage by another 9 million already covered by ACA market plans, and – on average – reduce premiums by $ 50 per person per month. Moreover, four out of five participants in such plans were finally able to identify a plan for $ 10 or less a month after reporting tax credits, which allowed a quarter of those enrolled to improve their coverage.

Older Americans between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-four have benefited from the abolition of the so-called “subsidy scale,” giving them access to health plans that are significantly more affordable while maintaining their monthly premium costs. or less than 8.5 percent of their income.

These subsidies, combined with special enrollment periods, have reached 5.8 million more Americans and a record high of more than 35 million enrolled in ACA plans in early 2022. According to a new study by the Urban Institute, this jump in enrollment reduced premiums as a direct result of ARP subsidies, “which increases the likelihood of healthy people choosing to buy coverage that was previously considered unaffordable.” Adding millions of healthy people to the risk pool not only made healthcare more accessible to all, but also slowed inflation.

Twelve states refused to expand Medicaid, leaving 2.2 million uninsured in what is known as the “Medicaid coverage gap,” six of ten of them colored. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, covering that population by expanding Medicaid would save approximately 7,000 lives each year, shave off $ 2 billion in medical debt and result in 50,000 fewer evictions than home each year. Also, a recent study by researchers from the American Cancer Society found that expanding Medicaid will contribute to a two-year overall increase in survival among patients recently diagnosed with cancer.

That’s why the House passed the Better Recovery Building Act in November, which addresses both challenges by expanding premium tax credits and providing ACA grants to those in the coverage gap. We must continue to strive for universal eligibility and coverage. The provisions we have included in the Better Construction Act would help achieve this goal.

In a letter dated 23 May, 25 Democrats in the House of Representatives representing competing regions wrote: “It’s a historic advance in accessibility, coverage, equity – and we regularly hear from voters about how these significant reductions in health care spending have changed their lives, offering financial relief at a time when American families need it most. Congress must act soon to ensure that these cost-saving measures do not disappear.

Some states, such as Maryland, have already presented their proposed premium rates for 2023. Congress must act quickly to make permanent the ARP regulations that keep Americans covered by ACA plans. In states like South Carolina that have not yet expanded Medicaid, Congress must free them from the abyss of Medicaid and give them access to affordable health care plans.

It has been 200 days since the Chamber passed the Better Construction Act. Congress must act now to ensure security and stability for millions of Americans and to avoid alarming spikes in spending. As Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives, we will continue to promote legislation to protect affordable and accessible health care that expands access and reduces costs for individuals and families. We call on our colleagues in the House and Senate to seek a swift agreement on legislation that will provide security and confidence for the millions who are now at risk of losing access to affordable and quality healthcare.

Hoyer is the 5th district of Maryland and is the leader of the majority in the House. Clyburn is the 6th district of South Carolina and is a whip of the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

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