03.03.2021 / Press Release
Health Care Stakeholders and the Advocacy Community Unite to Support Health Coverage Provisions in the American Rescue Plan
Washington D.C. – The undersigned organizations, representing a broad range of health care stakeholders — consumers and patients; communities of color; immigrants; people with disabilities and chronic conditions; families, women, and children; employers; health insurers, including safety net health plans; doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers; and independent policy analysts — urge the Senate to swiftly pass measures put forward by the U.S. House of Representatives that would protect and strengthen health coverage in America.
Comprehensive, affordable, high-quality health coverage has always mattered. But it matters even more today.
A deadly, highly infectious pandemic continues to sweep through our country, creating the worst public health crisis in more than a century. Every community and every family needs the immediate access to affordable health care that health insurance provides, enabling the rapid detection and prompt treatment of COVID-19.
At the same time, the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression has left millions of families without enough food to eat and unsure whether they can pay the next month’s mortgage or rent. Under these circumstances, no one should be burdened by large, unpaid medical bills. No one should be forced to choose between getting the medical care they need to stay healthy and feeding their families.
For too many of us, these obvious truths are nothing more than empty aspirations. Before the novel coronavirus reached our shores, nearly 30 million people had no health insurance whatsoever. Since then, millions have been laid-off or furloughed, sometimes losing health insurance that came with employment. Worst of all, America’s widening health insurance gaps are largest among the very underserved and underrepresented populations, such as communities of color, that have suffered most from the pandemic.
We are thus grateful for Congress’s historic response to this crisis, which proposes to protect and strengthen American health insurance by using multiple systems of coverage and care — employer-sponsored insurance, on which half of the country relies for health coverage, the individual market, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Examples of the American Rescue Plan’s private health care protections that we support include the following:
- Increasing federal financial assistance to make private insurance substantially more affordable for families who lack health benefits on the job.
- Providing sufficient financial assistance to help laid-off workers preserve continuity of care by staying on their former employer’s health plan through the COBRA health insurance program.
- For laid-off workers who fall outside COBRA’s protections, guaranteeing financial assistance that lets them buy affordable insurance in the individual market.
- Ensuring that 2020’s unpredictable fluctuations in income do not trigger draconian tax penalties for people who received financial help buying health insurance last year.
- Extending programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which help businesses stay in operation and provide workers and their families with employer-sponsored health insurance.
Examples of the legislation’s extensions of coverage through Medicaid and CHIP that we support include the following:
- Giving states powerful new financial incentives to extend Medicaid to low-income, working adults, many of whom are essential or front-line workers who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
- To promote continuity of care and combat the maternal mortality crisis that takes far too many lives in communities of color, authorizing states to provide women with 12 months of guaranteed health coverage after they give birth.
- Increasing federal funding that states can use to provide home- and community-based services for people with disabilities and seniors, helping them stay at home and in the community rather than become institutionalized in a nursing home, with attendant risks of contracting COVID-19.
- Giving states 100% federal funding to provide uninsured residents with testing, treatment, and vaccines for COVID-19.
Congressional action must fit the enormous scope of the problems that face our nation. We urge swift approval of the House plan for American health coverage as an essential part of our country’s response to COVID-19.
For further information and media requests, please contact:
- Association for Community Affiliated Plans: Jeff Van Ness, firstname.lastname@example.org
- America’s Essential Hospitals: Carl Graziano, email@example.com
- Families USA: Lisa Holland, LHolland@familiesusa.org
- Purchaser Business Group on Health: Lisa Zamosky, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Small Business Majority: Cassie Mills, email@example.com
- Third Way: Ladan Ahmadi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alliance to Fight for Health Care
American Benefits Council
American College of Physicians
America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Health Insurance Plans
Association for Community Affiliated Plans
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
Business Group on Health
The Center for Black Health & Equity
The ERISA Industry Committee
Japanese American Citizens League
National Health Council
National Health Law Program
National Partnership for Women & Families
Purchaser Business Group on Health
Small Business Majority
United States of Care