Monthly Archives

March 2021

Senate Passes American Rescue Plan Improving Health Care and Providing Essential Pandemic Lifeline for Americans

Historic Legislation Contains Most Significant Health Care Reform in a Decade

Washington, DC — Today, the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan, providing desperately needed pandemic relief and historic measures to strengthen the Affordable Care Act. The American Rescue Plan includes key health care provisions that will lower health care costs, expand coverage, and address inequities in care. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“After shameless obstruction from Republican Senators, Senate Democrats did what needed to be done to fight the pandemic and restart our economy. The American Rescue Plan is a historic improvement to the American health care system. It will lower health insurance premiums for millions, get more Americans covered, and help address racial inequities. After a decade of Republicans waging a war on the Affordable Care Act, President Biden and Democrats are delivering on their promises to lower health care costs and expand coverage. The American Rescue Plan has overwhelming bipartisan support in red states and blue states, and it will get vaccines in people’s arms, cash into families’ pockets, and kids back to school. Republicans have shown they have no positive ideas and are willing to play games with people’s lives and livelihoods in the middle of a pandemic.” 

BACKGROUND:

The American Rescue Plan Will Expand Coverage, Dramatically Reduce Health Care Costs For Americans

As part of the American Rescue Plan, Democrats included major provisions to lower health care costs and expand coverage, building on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This legislation will lower premiums for people purchasing coverage through the ACA marketplaces and expand access to financial assistance for more middle-class families. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan includes robust financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. 

Making health insurance more affordable and accessible is especially important as the country continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic and millions have lost their jobs and their health insurance. Measures to increase affordability also reduce racial disparities in health care access. Despite significant progress after the implementation of the ACA, Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than white adults to have low incomes and face financial barriers to receiving care.

Lower Costs: 

Increasing financial assistance on the ACA marketplaces means more people will be able to get the affordable coverage they need during the pandemic. Similar legislation previously passed by the House would lower costs for more than 10 million Americans and provide affordable options for uninsured Americans at a time when access to health care is paramount. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 1.3 million uninsured people will gain coverage as a result of these provisions alone. 

  • Guarantee coverage that costs less than 8.5 percent of income. This legislation lowers the cost of premiums for Americans purchasing coverage through the ACA marketplaces, ensuring enrollees have the option to purchase health care for less than 8.5 percent of their income for the next two years. 
  • Make coverage more affordable by temporarily expanding the eligibility for premium tax credits above 400 percent of the federal poverty level — roughly $51,000 for a single person or $105,000 for a family of four. Under current law, families earning just above 400 percent of the federal poverty level spend an average of 15 percent of their incomes on health insurance. According to estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: 
    • The average 45-year-old earning $60,000 will save $86 in monthly premiums. 
    • A 60-year-old couple with a household income of $75,000 will save $1,389 in monthly premiums. 
    • A family of four with a household income of $120,000 will save $595 in monthly premiums. 
  • Improve affordability for low- and middle-income Americans by increasing the size of the tax credits for all income brackets for the next two years. This means a typical family of four with a household income of $75,000 will save $248 on monthly premiums, while a single adult earning $30,000 will save $110 per month. 
  • Eliminate premiums in the exchanges for people earning up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level (roughly $19,000 for a single person and $39,000 for a family of four) and for those receiving unemployment insurance in 2021. 

Expanded Coverage:

In addition to providing affordable coverage options for millions of uninsured Americans through the ACA, the American Rescue Plan provides robust financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. Research confirms that Medicaid expansion increases access to care, improves financial security, and leads to better health outcomes. Medicaid expansion has played a vital role in reducing racial disparities in health care access and has served as a critical safety net during the pandemic. 

An estimated four million uninsured adults — including 640,000 frontline workers— could gain coverage if the remaining holdout states adopted expansion. Importantly, people of color make up nearly 60 percent of this group. 

Protect Our Care Hosts Nationwide Events to Hold Republicans Accountable for Delaying Much Needed Relief In the American Rescue Plan

Protect Our Care Has Held Events in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin

Senators Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), and Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), Mayors, State, and Local Elected Officials Joined Protect Our Care for Events

Over the last few weeks, Protect Our Care held over a dozen events nationwide calling for the urgent need for Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan to deliver $1,400 direct checks, money for vaccination distribution, and the expansion of affordable health care. While Republicans in the Senate continue to stall the American Rescue Plan, the key provisions in the legislation remain overwhelmingly popular among voters of all parties. Across the country, elected officials are calling on their senators to stop the political games and pass the American Rescue Plan.

Highlights and coverage from Protect Our Care’s events:

ALASKA

January 28, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Zoom Press Event with Health and Faith Community Advocates: Rev. Matt Schultz, of Christians for Equality, Jessica Cler, the Alaska State Director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai’i, and Trevor Storrs, the Executive Director of Alaska Children’s Trust joined Protect Our Care Alaska for a virtual press conference to discuss how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will provide desperately needed relief to Alaskans struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and urge Congress to take immediate action to pass the plan. You can watch the event here.

FLORIDA

January 28, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Zoom Event with Congressman Ted Deutch, Small Business Owner, and Local Doctor: Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL-22nd District) and along with local residents joined Protect Our Care Florida for a virtual Zoom event to discuss how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will provide desperately needed relief to Floridians struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic stretches into 2021, Floridians remain desperate for federal relief, and are urging swift action in Congress. You can watch the event here.

February 25, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Zoom Event with Congressman Charlie Crist and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor: Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13th) and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined Protect Our Care Florida for a virtual press conference to highlight the provisions of the American Rescue Plan that would deliver real relief to Floridians still struggling because of the pandemic, ahead of an expected vote on the legislation in House of Representatives. You can watch the event here.

  • Telemundo: Local Leaders Call for Rescue Plan
  • Florida Politics: Charlie Crist, Jane Castor push for COVID-19 stimulus package
  • WFTS (ABC): Tampa Mayor Urges Congress to Pass Relief

GEORGIA

February 4, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Virtual Press Event with Trio of Local Elected Officials: Three county commissioners in Georgia — DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry, Gwinnett Commissioner Kirkland Carden, and Rome Commissioner Wendy Davis joined Protect Our Care Georgia for a virtual press conference to call on Congress to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and to highlight how cities and local communities, bearing the brunt of the national public health emergency, are desperate for meaningful federal relief. Gwinnett Commissioner Carden said, “Here we are in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime public health emergency, and Republicans are dragging their feet on giving Americans the leadership and resources we need during this pandemic.” You can watch the event here.

March 3, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Event with Four Georgia Mayors:  Four of Georgia’s mayors — Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr., South Fulton Mayor William ‘Bill’ Edwards, Brookhaven Mayor John A. Ernst, Jr., and Union City Mayor Vince R. Williams —  joined Protect Our Care Georgia for a virtual press conference to call on the Senate to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and provide desperately needed relief to Georgians. “A crisis of this magnitude requires bold federal response, and it is time for Congress to meet us at the moment and pass the American Rescue Plan,” said Union City Mayor Vince Williams, “If our federal leaders are totally committed to this, they need to get out from the halls of the capitol and face the realities that we see as mayors each and every day.” You can watch the event here.

  • FOX5 News: Georgia Mayors Call For Congress To Pass Covid-19 Stimulus Bill
  • CBS 12 Augusta: Segment on Georgia Mayors Calling for Congress to Pass American Rescue Plan
  • Atlanta Journal Constitution: The Jolt: Kemp Faces Test With GOP-backed Voting Restrictions
    • “A quartet of Georgia mayors are speaking out in favor of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill, which is currently in the hands of the U.S. Senate. Augusta’s Hardie Davis, South Fulton’s Bill Edwards, Brookhaven’s John Ernst and Union City’s Vince Williams will participate in a virtual press conference sponsored by Protect Our Care, a left-leaning healthcare advocacy group. They are the highest profile Georgia mayors to actively campaign for the new $1.9 trillion relief bill, called the American Rescue Plan.” [AJC, 3/3/21]

MAINE

February 5, 2021 — American Rescue Press Call with State Senate Leader Troy Jackson and Advocates: Maine State Senate Leader Troy Jackson joined Kate Ende with Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Marie Follayttar with Mainers for Accountable Leadership, and Protect Our Care Maine for a press call to discuss why Mainers need Congress to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan a quickly as possible. “Our budgets and bills are moral documents that lay bare our elected officials’ priorities,” said Marie Follayttar of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, who urged Maine’s congressional delegation to stand up for those struggling across the state. “You either care about the people, and vote to make sure that their needs are met, or you don’t care about the people. It is that simple.” You can listen to an audio recording here.

NORTH CAROLINA

January 26, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Press Call w/ Representative Carla Cunningham and Healthcare Advocate Montica Talmadge: Representative Carla Cunningham and healthcare advocate Montica Talmadge joined Protect Our Care North Carolina for a press call to discuss how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will provide desperately needed relief to North Carolinians struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Rescue Plan will deliver much-needed relief to families, provide support for struggling state and local governments, jumpstart a nationwide vaccination program, and rebuild our communities. You can listen to an audio recording here.

March 3, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Event with State and Local Officials and Advocates: North Carolina State Representative Carla Cunningham, Wake County Commissioner Maria Cervania, and local advocates joined Protect Our Care North Carolina for a virtual press conference to urge the Senate to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and provide desperately needed relief to North Carolina families. The American Rescue Plan also would provide federal resources for North Carolina to expand its Medicaid program. Rep. Cunningham mentioned how expanding Medicaid would be a huge boost for the state. “This plan will provide financial incentives for states like North Carolina to finally expand Medicaid…doing so would benefit children, adults, seniors, and those with disabilities,” said Cunningham. You can listen to an audio recording here.

OHIO

January 26, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Event w/ State and Local Electeds and Advocates: Mayor Nan Whaley, Rep. Beth Liston, and Ohio advocates joined Protect Our Care Ohio for a virtual press conference to discuss how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will deliver much-needed relief to families, provide support for struggling state and local governments, jumpstart a nationwide vaccination program, and rebuild our communities. You can watch the event here.

March 1, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Event with Senator Sherrod Brown, Chillicothe Mayor Feeney, Local Elected Officials and Advocates: Senator Sherrod Brown joined other Ohio elected officials and advocates, Protect Our Care Ohio and For Our Future Ohio for a virtual press conference to urge the U.S. Senate to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. “Workers and their families need to see their government work for them, now,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. “And this rescue plan must be the beginning of our work to deliver results that empower people and make their lives better, not the end.”  Desiree Tims, President and CEO of Innovation Ohio added, “we need Congress to pass this bill because it is the right thing to do, but we also need to remember it is the popular thing to do. The vast majority of Americans support this legislation; they support taking big, bold action to help their friends, family, and neighbors who they see everyday struggling to make ends meet.” You can watch the event here.

PENNSYLVANIA

February 18, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Event with Senator Bob Casey and Bipartisan Local Officials and Advocates: Senator Bob Casey, Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg, and local advocates joined Protect Our Care Pennsylvania for a virtual press conference to urge Congress to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and provide relief to the many families, health care workers, and Pennsylvanians who are struggling across the state. Senator Casey stressed the importance of Congress taking swift action to deliver immediate relief, saying ,“no family, when faced with the greatest threat to public health of our generation and the accompanying economic crisis, should have to worry about being uninsured or not being able to afford insurance.” You can watch the event here.

WISCONSIN

January 28, 2021 — American Rescue Plan Event with Congressman Mark Pocan, Milwaukee County Executive Crowley and Nurses: Rep. Mark Pocan, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, and front line nurses joined Protect Our Care Wisconsin for a virtual press conference to discuss how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will provide desperately needed relief to Wisconsinites struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the event, Congressman Rep. Mark Pocan praised the Biden administration’s early moves to confront the pandemic and its impact before noting that Congress has the responsibility to act in order to free up the resources necessary to support taxpayers, business owners, and local units of government. “We (Congress) didn’t take that responsibility seriously enough in the past thanks to Mitch McConnell,” said Pocan. “Now, we’ve got to.” You can watch the event here.

  • Up North News: Nurses, Elected Officials Say Fast Action Is Needed on Biden’s Stimulus Proposal

March 1, 2021 — American Recuse Plan Event with State Treasurer Godlewski, Mayor Cory Mason, and Advocates: State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Racine Mayor Cory Mason, UW-Green Bay Professor Jon Shelton, and Sunny Kurhajetz, a municipal employee from Madison joined Protect Our Care Wisconsin and For Our Future Wisconsin for a virtual press conference to call on the U.S. Senate to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and provide desperately needed relief to Wisconsinites. “There are some ideologues who claim that this package is too big — these folks are clearly trapped in the Washington bubble and disconnected from the economic pain that household budgets are facing,” said Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. “The risk is not doing too much, it’s doing too little.” You can watch the event here.

  • Up North News: Progressive Groups Continue Push for Approving a Biden Stimulus Plan, Citing Ongoing Need and Widespread Support
  • Wispolitics.com PM Report: State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski slammed members of Congress who oppose the federal pandemic relief for being “trapped in the Washington bubble.”

Upcoming Events:

MAINE

March 5, 2021 at 3:00 PM – Lawmakers and Health Care Advocates To Urge Congress to Provide Relief for Struggling Mainers: Lawmakers and local advocates will join Protect Our Care Maine for a press call to urge Congress to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, and provide desperately needed relief to Mainers. Join the call at 3:00pm ET by dialing into 877-229-8493, pin #114927.

IN THE NEWS: Robust Start to President Biden’s Special Enrollment Period Shows Americans Need Health Care Coverage During Pandemic

This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report showing more than 206,000 Americans signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace during the first two weeks of the special enrollment period President Biden enacted allowing Americans to get covered during the pandemic. These numbers demonstrate people need and want affordable health insurance, especially in the middle of a pandemic when millions have lost their jobs and their health insurance. News reports show that Americans are turning to the affordable health insurance available to them because President Biden delivered on his promise and opened a special enrollment period under the ACA. 

CNN: Sign-Ups For Biden’s Obamacare Special Enrollment Period Nearly Triple. “More than 206,000 people signed up for Affordable Care Act policies on the federal exchange in the first two weeks of the special enrollment period ordered by President Joe Biden, federal data released Wednesday shows. Uninsured Americans who want to buy 2021 coverage on healthcare.gov could start doing so on February 15, thanks to an executive order Biden signed in January.” [CNN, 3/3/21

  • CNN: The Biden Administration Is “Pouring $50 Million Into Marketing And Outreach To Let People Know About The Opportunity.” “Biden, however, reopened enrollment to give the uninsured another chance to select policies during the coronavirus pandemic, and his administration is pouring $50 million into marketing and outreach to let people know about the opportunity. CMS is also providing about $2.3 million to 30 navigator organizations to assist consumers with enrollment, the agency announced this week. Former President Donald Trump refused to launch a special enrollment period when the pandemic hit last year and slashed the Affordable Care Act’s marketing and navigator budgets throughout his term.” [CNN, 3/3/21

Washington Post: More Than 200,000 Americans Sign Up For ACA Health Plans During Special Enrollment Period. “More than 200,000 Americans signed up for Affordable Care Act health plans during the first two weeks of an extended enrollment period President Biden ordered to help more people find insurance amid the economic ripple effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Figures released Wednesday by federal health officials show the number of consumers who chose coverage through HealthCare.gov from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28 — 206,236 — was nearly three times higher than during the same period last year and roughly 3½ times greater than in 2019.” [Washington Post, 3/3/21

Associated Press: Biden Encouraged By Consumer Interest In ‘Obamacare’ Offer. “In a solid start, more than 200,000 people signed up for coverage the first two weeks after President Joe Biden reopened HealthCare.gov as part of his coronavirus response, the government said Wednesday. Early consumer interest in the three-month special enrollment period shows pent-up demand for health insurance a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people still unemployed or unable to work as many hours as before.” [Associated Press, 3/4/21

  • Larry Levitt, Executive Vice President For Health Policy At The Kaiser Family Foundation, Said “This Special Enrollment Period Could Make A Meaningful Dent In The Number Of People Uninsured.” “If the pace keeps up, ‘this special enrollment period could make a meaningful dent in the number of people uninsured,’ said Larry Levitt, who tracks health insurance for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘The enrollment numbers so far are stronger than I would have expected.'” [Associated Press, 3/4/21

Healthcare Finance: More Than 200,000 Take Advantage Of ACA Special Enrollment Period. “President Joe Biden, unlike his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, supports the Affordable Care that was signed into law when he was vice president to President Barack Obama. During his campaign, Biden promised to strengthen the ACA and to offer a public health insurance option.” [Healthcare FInance, 3/3/21

The Hill: Over 200K Sign Up For ACA Plans During Biden Special Enrollment Period. “Americans want health insurance. More than 200,000 people signed up for health coverage on federal ObamaCare exchanges in the first two weeks of a special pandemic enrollment period, according to federal statistics released Wednesday…According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the number of signups from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28 was nearly three times higher than during the same period last year, when only 76,000 people signed up.” [The Hill, 3/3/21

USA Today: Obamacare Sign-Ups Increase During Special Enrollment Period For COVID-19. “More than 206,000 Americans signed up for health insurance through the federally run HealthCare.gov in the first two weeks of the three-month special enrollment period created by President Joe Biden, the administration announced Wednesday. That compares with about 76,000 who enrolled during the same period last year, when people could only pick a plan if they had a special circumstance, such as a job loss.” [USA Today, 3/3/21

Senate Finance Committee Advances Becerra’s Historic Nomination

Washington, DC — Today, the Senate Finance Committee voted to advance the nomination of President Biden’s highly qualified pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra. Becerra has decades of experience and was instrumental in the passage of the Affordable Care Act when he served in the House. As California’s attorney general, Becerra also led the charge to protect Americans’ health care against constant, baseless Republican attacks. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Xavier Becerra has proven he is uniquely qualified to serve as HHS Secretary. Becerra was an architect of the ACA, and he has been a staunch defender of the health care law as California’s attorney general. As the first Latino selected for this role, Becerra’s nomination is historic — especially at a time when our country is battling the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. President Biden needs his health care team in place as soon as possible, and Becerra is ready to hit the ground running on day one to get the pandemic under control, build on the ACA, and protect the health of Americans. The Senate should vote to confirm Becerra immediately.” 

Special Enrollment Period Numbers Show Americans Want and Need Affordable Insurance As They Battle the Pandemic

More Than 206,000 People Got Covered in First Two Weeks

Washington, DC — Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report showing more than 206,000 Americans signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace during the first two weeks of the special enrollment period President Biden enacted after taking office. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“President Biden’s decision to open the Affordable Care Act Marketplace for business is making a huge difference for hundreds of thousands of Americans. People need affordable health insurance, especially in the middle of a pandemic when millions have lost their jobs and their health insurance. These numbers show that Americans need and want the affordable health insurance they can now get because President Biden delivered on his promise and opened a special enrollment period under the ACA. Democrats are about to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes the most significant expansion of health care in a decade. The ARP will make Marketplace insurance even more affordable by reducing premiums for over 10 million Americans, yet Republicans would rather play political games than help their own constituents. It’s disgraceful.”

The Reviews Are In: Overwhelmingly Popular American Rescue Plan Contains the Most Significant Health Care Reforms in a Decade

Health Care Provisions in the American Rescue Plan Will Lower Costs and Expand Coverage for Millions

New polling from Public Policy Polling on behalf of Protect Our Care shows that the American Rescue Plan has wide bipartisan support from the American people, even though every member of the House GOP voted against it. As Protect Our Care outlined earlier this week, Republicans are trying to make it more likely for people to get infected with the virus, and less likely to get health care if they do. Much like when Republicans voted to repeal health care in 2017, this vote could haunt them in the months, years, and elections to come. 

Alongside direct checks, money for vaccines, and other critical provisions, this bill includes the most significant reforms to health care in the United States in a decade. This legislation will lower premiums for people purchasing coverage through the ACA marketplaces and expand access to financial assistance for more middle-class families. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan includes robust financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. The health provisions in the American Rescue Plan will lower costs and expand coverage for millions at a time when access to health care is paramount.

Here’s what the headlines are saying about this expansion:

NBC News: Obamacare Would Get a Big (and Quiet) Overhaul in the COVID Relief Bill. “The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed the House on Saturday would make one of the biggest changes to the Affordable Care Act in over a decade, and it could set the stage for a broader overhaul of the health care program — but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard much about it. ” [NBC News, 3/2/21]

CNBC: The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill Would Make Health Insurance More Affordable for Millions. “The $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package that’s expected to clear the House of Representatives on Friday includes several provisions that aim to make health care more affordable for households. They include: increasing premium subsidies (technically tax credits) through the federal marketplace and state exchanges for 2021 and 2022, expanding who qualifies for them and forgiving amounts due by taxpayers who received too much in subsidies in 2020 (and minimizing that issue for 2021).” [CNBC, 2/26/21

Vox: The Covid-19 Relief Bill Is Also an Obamacare Expansion Bill. “The Covid-19 relief package proposed by President Joe Biden and being considered by Democrats in Congress could expand health care coverage to millions of people, the most significant step in the last 10 years toward patching up some of the holes in the Affordable Care Act.” [Vox, 2/17/21

USA Today: Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes an Expansion of Obamacare. Here’s How It Would Work.“That potential boost in insurance help for millions of people would be the first significant expansion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, since its 2010 passage. The Senate this week is taking up the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package and Democrats hope it could be sent to Biden’s desk for his signature as early as next week.” [USA Today, 3/2/21

Washington Post: Affordable Care Act Subsidies Likely to Increase Under Congressional Plan. “The expansion of federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act health plans, stretching to reach people who are in the middle class or unemployed, is woven into a proposal the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to approve by the end of this week. The proposal also would raise ACA insurance subsidies for consumers already eligible for that help. The ideas have been adopted in the past year by the Democratic-led House but had no chance of becoming reality until the Senate and the White House shifted last month into Democratic hands.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21

New York Times: At Last, Democrats Get Chance to Engineer Obamacare 2.0. “But Republicans united against the law and, for the next decade, blocked nearly all efforts to buttress it or to make the kinds of technical corrections that are common in the years after a major piece of legislation. Now the Biden administration and a Democratic Congress hope to engineer the first major repair job and expansion of the Affordable Care Act since its passage. They plan to refashion regulations and spend billions through the stimulus bill to make Obamacare simpler, more generous and closer to what many of its architects wanted in the first place.” [New York Times, 2/27/21

Washington Post: The Health 202: Democrats Are Using Their Coronavirus Relief Package to Try Expanding Health Coverage.  “Legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee offers the dozen states that haven’t expanded their Medicaid programs under Obamacare a fresh new incentive to do so. Under the proposal released late last night, the federal government would cover an extra 5 percent of costs for all of their Medicaid enrollees – not just the expansion population – if states agreed to expand the program. The extra contributions would last two years.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21]

New York Times: Broad Coalition of Health Industry Groups Calls for Obamacare Expansion. “The coalition is composed of eight powerful industry groups, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It released a detailed set of proposals on Wednesday morning, including an increase in the federal subsidies available to help people afford coverage and a three-year re-establishment of the generous match in federal funding to states to entice more of them to expand their Medicaid programs. The coalition also urged the government to spend more money on enrolling people in plans offered by the insurance markets established under the law, efforts that were slashed by the previous administration.” [New York Times, 2/10/21

Politico: Democrats Push Temporary Obamacare Expansion in Covid Bill. “Pieces of the Covid-19 relief package House Democrats released Monday night include the first major expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies in more than a decade — a key plank of President Joe Biden’s health care agenda that they hope to pass in the coming weeks. Democrats are hoping that the beefed up subsidies, combined with Biden’s recent executive order to reopen the ACA’s markets and advertise heavily to entice people to enroll, will make a major dent in the ranks of uninsured Americans that have grown during the pandemic and ensuing economic recession.” [Politico, 2/8/21

The Hill: House Dems’ COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes 2-Year Boost to ObamaCare Subsidies. “House Democrats’ coronavirus relief legislation released Monday would increase the Affordable Care Act’s financial assistance for two years, providing greater help for enrollees’ to afford their premiums…Increasing ObamaCare’s financial assistance to make premiums more affordable has been a major Democratic goal for years, viewed as an improvement to the original ACA, but has been blocked by Republicans who oppose spending more money on a health care law they oppose.” [The Hill, 2/8/21

Axios: Democrats Eye Big ACA Changes in COVID Relief Bill. “Democrats’ coronavirus relief proposal includes major changes to the Affordable Care Act, aiming to make health insurance more affordable for the millions of people who have lost their employer-based coverage during the pandemic.” [Axios, 2/10/21

New York Times: One Sentence in Biden Stimulus Plan Reveals His Health Care Approach. “Now, control of the White House and a slim majority in Congress mean the first real prospect of significantly strengthening Obamacare since it became law in 2010. President-elect Biden’s inclusion of policies to shore up the health law in his first major legislative package has raised those hopes further.” [New York Times, 1/16/21]

Protect Our Care Praises Senator Shaheen’s Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act

Bill Would Lower Premiums and Deductibles for Families

Washington, DC — On Friday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced the Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act, which would lower health care costs and expand access to coverage for 4 million more Americans. Additionally, the bill would reduce health care costs for millions of additional individuals who already have coverage – which is especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Protect Our Care is proud to support the Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act. Reducing health care costs and expanding access to coverage is even more essential now as Americans battle the pandemic, which has left families to deal with catastrophic health and economic outcomes. This bill expands eligibility for the ACA’s premium tax credits for those who are currently ineligible while increasing the help available for those who already qualify. It also substantially reduces deductible and out-of-pocket costs for families of all incomes. People will see and feel real benefits from this plan. It will make health care more affordable and accessible for people in both red states and blue states. In the American Rescue Plan, the House passed the most significant reforms to health care in over a decade to reduce cost, expand coverage, and improve care — including the premium tax credit enhancements proposed in the Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act on a temporary basis. People need this relief immediately, and it must be included as the Senate considers the American Rescue Plan. Further, Congress needs to make these changes permanent for American families, which is why they should pass the Improving Health Care Insurance Affordability Act.”

Biden Keeps Health Care Promises, Announces Additional Funding to Boost ACA Special Enrollment Period

Washington, DC — Today, as first reported in Axios, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced an additional $2.3 million in funding for Navigators that will help people enroll in coverage during the current special enrollment period that runs through May 15, 2021. This is in addition to the $50 million in outreach and education funding announced last month. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“President Biden is keeping his health care promises. Today’s announcement is another example of President Biden delivering on his commitment to increase coverage by funding the necessary outreach, education, and enrollment efforts to make sure people know how to get covered. Since taking office, President Biden has opened a special enrollment period, removed barriers to enrolling in Medicaid, and proposed the American Rescue Plan, which includes the most significant reforms to health care in over a decade — to reduce cost, expand coverage, and improve care. After just a few weeks in office, President Biden is enacting policies that add up to the largest improvement in health care in ten years.”