Monthly Archives

May 2022

NEW: Addressing the U.S. Mental Health Crisis Requires Action to Lower Health Care Costs

On the final day of Mental Health Awareness Month, Protect Our Care is releasing a new fact sheet outlining the importance of lowering health care costs in order to improve care for people suffering from mental illness. Nationwide, more than 52 million Americans suffer from mental illness. Young adults between 18 to 25 years old are the most at risk, with more than 30 percent of people in that age range suffering from conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. In the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s mental health decline has worsened, suicide rates are on the rise, and it has become a national crisis. At the same time, there is a serious barrier to accessing treatment: 27 percent of Americans with anxiety or depression have reported having their care needs unmet due to cost, not knowing how to navigate gaining care, or provider shortages.

The Biden administration has already taken bold action to address Americans’ declining mental health. At the State of the Union this year, President Biden unveiled an ambitious mental health and drug use treatment plan. The plan has a special focus on school aged youth to help those who fell behind during virtual learning or suffered from isolation during the pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services partnered with the Department of Education to provide schools with additional mental health assistance through funding and technical assistance in launching new programs. President Biden’s plan also called on health insurance plans to cover behavioral and mental health services with a minimum of three free services a year. The Biden Administration has set aside $700 million for programs to provide education and training to increase the amount of working mental health professionals. 

Now, President Biden and Democrats in Congress are working to improve health care access by lowering premium costs, reducing drug prices, and expanding affordable coverage. These steps to lower costs and improve access to care is essential to fighting the U.S. mental health crisis. 

LOWERING COSTS & EXPANDING COVERAGE IS ESSENTIAL TO IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH CARE

Lowering Premiums

Lowering Premiums Is Vital To Ensure Americans Have Access To Mental Health Care. More than 3 million people will become uninsured if the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits expire—increasing the number of uninsured Americans by 11 percent. Insurers are already pursuing double-digit premium increases, causing nearly nine million Americans to pay significantly higher rates in order to retain their marketplace coverage. Affordability is the most prevalent barrier to obtaining mental health care. Being able to afford and access health care is linked with reductions in suicide and can allow people to get preventative care for mental illness.

Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

Lowering Prescription Costs Is Essential For Those Suffering From Mental Health Illness. Prescription medication can be a necessary treatment for many individuals suffering from mental illness. Drugs used to treat mental health and substance use disorders account for a quarter of all pharmaceutical spending for private insurers and a third of spending for Medicaid. These drugs can cost an individual anywhere from $15 to $1,000 a month, regardless of insurance status. It is particularly important for individuals using antidepressants, SSRIs, and other medications used to treat mental health disorders to have constant availability to their medications. Taking these medications as prescribed, usually on a daily basis, is important for treatment of mental health disabilities. When drug prices can prevent individuals from having access to their medication, people can’t take their medications as prescribed causing a lapse in treatment. Lowering prescription drug costs is vital to improving the nationwide mental health crisis.

Medicaid Expansion

Closing The Medicaid Coverage Gap Increases Mental Health Care. There are more than two million Americans currently trapped in the Medicaid coverage gap to access zero dollar premium health coverage. One in four people in the Medicaid coverage gap suffer from mental or behavioral health issues. The Affordable Care Act mandates Medicaid and private insurers to cover mental health care and preventative mental health screenings at no cost. Alongside Medicaid expansion, the enforcement of parity laws increases access to mental and behavioral health care for uninsured individuals by covering medications, therapy, and treatments for substance use disorders. Closing the coverage gap also saves lives. Giving uninsured Americans access to timely and affordable care is closely associated with reducing suicide rates among middle aged adults. Expanding Medicaid coverage is one of the most important things the federal government can do to combat America’s worsening mental health crisis.

MENTAL HEALTH IS A NATIONAL ISSUE

Gaps In Mental Health Care

Mental Health Care Provider Shortages Impact Millions. While finding care for mental health has always been difficult, the pandemic has specifically exacerbated this issue. More people than ever are seeking care and therapists and psychologists are overwhelmed. A survey by the American Psychological Association, found that out of 1,100 psychologists, 65 percent had no capacity for new patients and 68 percent had waitlists longer than in 2020. Rural areas of the country are specifically vulnerable to personnel shortages, with over an estimated 7,000 new mental health providers needed to fill care gaps. 

Minority Populations Are Particularly Vulnerable To Be Without Care. Youth, young adults, and minority populations are particularly suffering from the lack of available mental health care. There are only 8,300 practicing child psychologists in the United States for more than an estimated 15 million children who are in need of mental health care. Black and Hispanic people substantially lack access to mental health care, especially when compared to their white counterparts. Nearly 70 percent of Black and Hispanic populations suffering from mental illness go without care. 

Insurers Block Patients From Getting Mental Health Care In A Timely Manner. Health insurance plans do not make it easy for insurees to receive mental health care. In January 2022, 30 health care plans were reprimanded by the federal government for failing to cover mental health treatments that are required by the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. These plans were failing to cover interventions such as therapy, prescription drugs, or requiring referrals or pre-authorizations to receive mental and behavioral health treatments. The bipartisan Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) and Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), seeks to streamline the pre-authorization process, so Americans can get the care they need in a timely manner without having to wait for referrals from their primary care providers.

Pandemic Worsened Mental Health For Americans

Anxiety On The Rise During The COVID-19 Pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the number of people suffering from mental illness. Between 2019 and 2021, the amount of people that completed a mental health screen increased by nearly 500 percent. Anxiety is the number one mental illness that has been developed by the pandemic. Of the one million people screened for anxiety in 2021, nearly 80 percent had moderate to severe anxiety. This has been largely due to the unprecedented amounts of stress caused by the pandemic on individuals. Financial problems caused by taking time off due to COVID-19 infections, unemployment, and the rising cost of living has caused 65 percent of Americans to report high levels of stress and anxiety.

Suicide Rates On The Rise. Between 2000 and 2020, the adult suicide rate in the US rose by 30 percent. According to CDC data, suicide rates peaked in 2018 at about 14 deaths to 100,000 people. However, in 2020, teen suicides rose in many states and accounted for a majority share of deaths across 14 states. While it is still unclear how related the pandemic is to the rise in teen suicides, researchers hypothesize the loss of caregivers due to COVID-19 and the changes to virtual or hybrid schooling could be contributing to the increase in deaths. 

TEENS MOST VULNERABLE POPULATION

Teens Mental Health At A Decline

Four In Ten Teens Report Feeling Hopeless or Sad. In March 2022, the CDC officially warned the public of the “accelerating mental health crisis.” Findings in an early 2021 national survey, found that 40 percent of teens reported feeling hopeless or sad and 20 percent having contemplated suicide. Increased social media use, decline of in person social gatherings, global stressors, and parenting factors are largely responsible for the over two decade trend of declining teen mental health. Teen alcohol and drug use has also surged with over 30 percent reporting increased drug use during the pandemic. 

Teens And Young Adults Of Color Are Especially At Risk. Black students on college campuses have faced a growing number of racist or white supremacist incidents since 2018. Students of color experience mental and physical health consequences caused by these incidents. Colleges are failing to provide help for students of color who are mentally suffering from these incidents, let alone being able to provide minority therapists to provide racially and culturally sensitive care. High school students who have experienced racism at school also reported poor mental health and were more likely to have a physical, mental or emotional problem that makes it more difficult to concentrate.

Nearly Half Of LGBT Youth Have Considered Suicide. Declining mental health statistics among LGBT children and teens are staggering. According to the 2022 Trevor Project LGBT Youth Mental Health Survey, nearly three in four LGBT teens reported experiencing anxiety and over half reported feelings of depression, while 45 percent have considered suicide. While over 80 percent of LGBT youth reported wanting mental health care, 60 percent were not able to get it. Over 40 percent of those who could not get mental health care said it was due to lack of affordability. 

Lack Of Support In Schools

Mental Health Support In Schools Varies By State. Across the nation, mental health support in schools varies by state and education funding levels. States like California, Colorado, Washington, and Illinois have robust mental health support in schools and have adopted multiple strategies to improve mental health in schools. Meanwhile, states such as West Virginia, Georgia, South Dakota, and Missouri are rated among states with the poorest mental health support in schools due to lack of investment in support programs. Other state laws that impact children are also affecting students’ mental health. For example, the Texas law equating transgender care to child abuse and Florida’s law prohibiting “classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity” raises concern among mental health professionals, as these laws specifically prevent LGBT students from a safe learning envrionment in schools. 

Low Income Schools And Students Struggle With Increased Mental Health Problems. Over 50 percent of students in low income schools struggle with mental health illness, but only 20 percent of educators in these schools feel equipped to support these students. The pandemic is believed to have worsened conditions for students, with over four in five teachers reporting mental health conditions were a high or emergency priority during this past school year. A 2022 survey by FirstBook found that low income students dealing with unstable home life, food insecurity, and isolation due to the pandemic were among the most vulnerable to suffering from mental illness. As the national mental health decline is also affecting adults, educators in schools without financial support for mental health improvements are struggling with finding ways to support students, while also helping themselves.

Protect Our Care Continues Nationwide Events Urging Congress to Act Now to Stop Health Care Premium Hikes

U.S. Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09), Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), State and Local Officials, Health Care Advocates Headlined Events in Key States

This month, Protect Our Care continued to host events across the country to discuss ongoing efforts to drive down health care costs and expand access to quality coverage for millions of Americans. A record 14.5 million people signed up for coverage under Affordable Care Act marketplaces thanks in large part to the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced tax credits, which saved families hundreds of dollars on their monthly health care costs. However, unless Congress extends these health care premium reductions, millions of Americans will see dramatic increases in their 2023 health insurance premiums, and many will no longer be able to afford insurance at all.

Protect Our Care held events with Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09), Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), state and local officials, and health care storytellers to discuss the urgent need for Congress to extend the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits and highlight recent efforts to pass legislation to prevent premiums from skyrocketing at the end of this year.

NATIONAL

On Tuesday, May 24, U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) joined Protect Our Care to discuss the urgent need for Congress to extend the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits. Watch the full event here.

“My legislation has lowered annual premium costs by an average of $2,400 per family for Affordable Care Act plans, and a record 14.5 million Americans enrolled in coverage for this year. This is historic financial relief at a time when people need it the most. But if we don’t act now, to extend these savings, families will see sharp, unacceptable premium increases in 2023,” said Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14). “This provision already passed the House of Representatives in November, uniting our Democratic caucus around the shared conviction that every American deserves access to high quality, affordable health care. It is time for the Senate to join us and deliver on this promise to the American people.”

“If these subsidies go away, the price increases on health care will be brutal for families, brutal for employers, and brutal for our communities,” said Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL).  “We can’t pull the rug out from under families and allow huge increases to the cost of health care when families are struggling to afford other essentials, like groceries and gasoline. We have to maintain these essential subsidies and maintain the health care security Vermont’s families need.” 

COVERAGE:

  • Chicago Sun Times: Rep. Lauren Underwood leading drive to bolster swing district Democrats on Obamacare subsidies

FLORIDA

On Thursday, May 19, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) joined Protect Our Care Florida to discuss a new report that shows the premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan have made health coverage more affordable for Floridians. Watch the full event here.

“Healthcare is a right in my view and the costs we have to pay for healthcare in America is absurd,” said Representative Crist. “I think that any opportunity we have to be able to reduce the burden of healthcare on American citizens and in particular Floridians that we care most about is essential for us to pursue.”

COVERAGE:

  • Florida Politics: Expiration of public health emergency, enhanced tax credits could surge state’s uninsured rolls

NEW HAMPSHIRE

On Wednesday, May 18, a group of public health experts joined Protect Our Care New Hampshire to discuss a new report that shows the premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan have made health coverage more affordable for NH residents. Watch the full event here.

“We’ve extended eligibility for premium credits to reach more people with higher incomes so that they don’t have to feel the brunt of these escalating health costs. This Administration has been incredibly supportive in making sure that open enrollment is possible, subsidies are possible, and other cost sharing support is possible, and help is on the way. We really need those subsidies, especially as we begin to face the unwind from the protective Medicaid program during the public health emergency,” said Lucy C. Hodder, Director, Health Law and Policy at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law.

OHIO

On Friday, March 11, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09) and health care experts and advocates joined Protect Our Care Ohio to discuss the urgent importance of and opportunities to lower health care costs for Ohioans. Watch the full event here

“Health care is about dignity. Whether you’re a farmer, a trucker, a construction worker, a cashier, or a teacher, you deserve the quality, affordable health care coverage to help you when you get sick or injured,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. More than one million Ohioans live with diabetes, but outrageous pharmaceutical pricing of insulin leads so many to ration their supplies. The Affordable Insulin Now Act would ensure Ohioans are able to live the full and healthy lives they deserve.”

COVERAGE:

  • WTOL (CBS): Lower Health Care of Ohio Discussion Today 
  • WTOL (CBS): Lowering Health Care Costs for Ohioans 

WEST VIRGINIA

On Thursday, May 19, Health care advocates joined Protect Our Care West Virginia to discuss a new report that shows the premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan have made health coverage more affordable for West Virginians. Watch the full event here.

“People are making a lot of hard decisions due to inflation affecting every part of our lives,” said Delegate Shawn Fluharty. “No American family or West Virginia family should ever have to choose between having healthcare or putting food on the table, and that’s exactly where we will be if the Advanced Premium Tax Credits are allowed to expire. The impact would be insurmountable for many West Virginians.”

Protect Our Care Applauds Democratic Leadership for Shielding Millions of Patients From Surprise Medical Bills

Washington, DC —This week, major insurers released a new report showing that the No Surprises Act saved patients from 2 million surprise bills in just the first two months of implementation. The No Surprises Act was championed by Democratic leadership, including Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ-06) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and it has been implemented by the Biden administration. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“For decades, surprise bills have plagued the U.S. health care system and left countless families in financial distress. Now, thanks to health care champions in Congress, millions of patients are shielded from this egregious billing practice. This victory would not be possible without the tireless work of Democratic leadership and President Biden, who have done everything in their power to protect patients and expand access to affordable care. While there is more work to be done, this legislation has lowered costs and provided meaningful relief for millions of families.”

“We Can’t Pull The Rug Out From Under Families”: Reps. Welch and Underwood Urge Congressional Action to Prevent Health Premium Hikes

Watch the Full Video Here

Washington, DC —Today U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) joined Protect Our Care to discuss the urgent need for Congress to extend the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits. This year, a record 14.5 million people signed up for coverage through the ACA marketplaces thanks in large part to the enhanced tax credits, which saved families hundreds of dollars on their monthly health care costs. Now, Democrats are fighting to extend these tax credits for working families to prevent premiums from skyrocketing at the end of this year. 

Just yesterday, Congresswoman Underwood led 26 Swing-District House Democratic Members in a letter urging Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer to prioritize lowering health care costs, including extending the enhanced advance premium tax credits and expanding Medicaid coverage in upcoming reconciliation legislation.

“My legislation has lowered annual premium costs by an average of $2,400 per family for Affordable Care Act plans, and a record 14.5 million Americans enrolled in coverage for this year. This is historic financial relief at a time when people need it the most. But if we don’t act now, to extend these savings, families will see sharp, unacceptable premium increases in 2023,” said Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14). “This provision already passed the House of Representatives in November, uniting our Democratic caucus around the shared conviction that every American deserves access to high quality, affordable health care. It is time for the Senate to join us and deliver on this promise to the American people.”

“If these subsidies go away, the price increases on health care will be brutal for families, brutal for employers, and brutal for our communities,” said Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL).  “We can’t pull the rug out from under families and allow huge increases to the cost of health care when families are struggling to afford other essentials, like groceries and gasoline. We have to maintain these essential subsidies and maintain the health care security Vermont’s families need.”  

“If we do not continue the advanced premium tax credits, there will be financial hits for West Virginia families and families across the nation,” said Jessica Ice, patient storyteller from West Virginia. “For me personally, I’m saving over $200 a month as a single mom of two young children. For my family, this translates into money for food, utilities, and, frankly, other health care costs that we have.” 

“The American Rescue Plan saved families thousands on their premiums, driving record enrollment and giving people more breathing room to pay for other necessities like food, child care, and rent,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “If Congress fails to act, millions of families will pay thousands more for health insurance in 2023, and millions will lose their coverage entirely. Open enrollment begins just a week before election day, and when people go to the polls these premium increases will be front and center.”

HEADLINES: Congress Must Act Now to Stop Health Care Premium Hikes

The American Rescue Plan saved families thousands of dollars on their health care premiums, but these savings are set to expire, and a health care crisis is looming. Unless Congress extends the health care premium reductions in the American Rescue Plan, millions of Americans will see dramatic increases in their 2023 health insurance premiums, and many will no longer be able to afford insurance at all. Coverage confirms these premium hikes will be front and center as Americans signing up for health coverage and heading to the polls in November. 

Coverage:

Washington Post: Congress Is Under Pressure From State Marketplaces To Keep Obamacare Subsidies Higher. “They’re issuing warnings about large spikes in premiums — notices Americans could receive just weeks before the midterm elections. It’s a message roughly 17 directors of state-based Obamacare exchanges will make in meetings today with administration officials and on the Hill with top Democratic and Republican staff.” [Washington Post, 5/17/22]

Politico: An Obamacare Fiasco Could Blow Up On Democrats Right Before The Midterms. “The price hikes would hit an estimated 13 million people across the country, potentially adding hundreds of dollars to families’ monthly expenses…voters would begin receiving notices about their premium increases in October — around the same time they’re starting to cast their midterm ballots…Health experts predict abruptly eliminating the subsidies would especially reverse the coverage gains among Black people and those who live in red states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. For millions more, their monthly premiums would potentially skyrocket.” [Politico, 5/20/22]

The Hill: Vulnerable House Democrats Urge Action To Prevent Obamacare Premium Hike This Fall. “‘These out-of-pocket cost increases are imminent: starting this autumn, when enrollees begin receiving notices of their premium increases for 2023 health plans, our constituents will find that the same high-quality coverage that they have been able to afford thanks to the American Rescue Plan will now be out of reach,’ the lawmakers write…If the enhanced subsidies are not extended, premium increases could be substantial. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that premiums would have been 53 percent higher on average this year without the extra financial assistance.” [The Hill, 5/23/22]

Business Insider: West Virginians Will See The Biggest Spike In Obamacare Premiums Within Months If Manchin Keeps Blocking Biden’s Economic Agenda. “In West Virginia, people would see an average premium hike of $1,536 per person…With ACA open enrollment kicking off on Nov. 1, many Americans would see the eye-popping premium increases for 2023 just a week before casting votes in the midterms.” [Business Insider, 5/16/22]

Huffington Post: Democrats Have Little Time To Avert An Election-Eve Obamacare Premium Hike. “Health insurance premiums for millions of Americans will spike if Congress doesn’t act in the next few months, with particularly big increases in politically contested states…The assistance, which President Joe Biden and the Democrats enacted as part of last year’s COVID-19 relief program, has reduced premiums by hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars a year. But the assistance is set to end in December. If that happens, prices will go back up and consumers will start to learn about the increases in the fall.” [Huffington Post, 5/16/22]

Kaiser Health News: New Covered California Leader Urges Renewal Of Enhanced Federal Aid For Health Premiums. “The extra dollars reduced the average monthly premium cost to Covered California enrollees by 20% this year compared with 2021, according to estimates from the exchange. And the lower cost helped push enrollment to a record 1.8 million this year. Nationally, the average premium cost for marketplace enrollees dropped 23%, and enrollment rose to 14.5 million, also a record. Altman fears that without the continued support, the cost to consumers will rise sharply, and many people will forgo coverage. It’s why she says one of her first tasks is to push Congress for an extension of the American Rescue Plan subsidies.” [Kaiser Health News, 5/18/22]

Florida Politics: Expiration Of Public Health Emergency, Enhanced Tax Credits Could Surge State’s Uninsured Rolls. “There’s a ‘perfect storm’ brewing that could lead to hundreds of thousands of Florida residents losing their health insurance coverage…costs of health insurance premiums could soar by 53% for more than 2.5 million people if Congress does not make permanent the enhanced subsidies that were included in the American Rescue Plan.” [Florida Politics, 5/19/22]

Health News Florida: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Florida Residents May Become Uninsured In 2023 Without Premium Tax Credits. “If you create a situation where coverage is so unaffordable that only really sick people want to be in it, you’re going to then raise premiums and you’re going to make that situation a little bit worse every year because every year premiums will get higher. So it’s bad for individuals and it’s bad for the market as a whole when premiums go up.” [Health News Florida, 5/11/22]

Cincinnati Enquirer (Opinion): Make Health Care Tax Credits Permanent. “Half of Americans worry about keeping up with health care costs, not only because it drains our bank accounts, but because we literally can’t live without it…the American Rescue Plan made health care premiums more affordable than ever. These tax credits have been a crucial lifeline for families during the pandemic, and now is the time to make them permanent.” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 5/21/22]

Reports:

Protect Our Care: Insurers Seeking Skyrocking Premium Increases In 2023. “Experts say insurers are likely to seek double digit increases in state after state…If Congress does not act, news of premiums skyrocketing will be front and center just as Americans begin signing up for coverage and as people go to the polls in November. Only Congress can prevent this from happening—it’s time to extend the American Rescue Plan tax credits.” [Protect Our Care, 5/20/22]

Kaiser Family Foundation: For ACA Enrollees, How Much Premiums Rise Next Year Is Mostly Up To Congress. “If Congress does not extend the subsidies, out-of-pocket premium payments will return to their pre-ARPA levels, which would be seen as a significant premium increase to millions of subsidized enrollees. In the 33 states using HealthCare.gov, premium payments in 2022 would have been 53% higher on average if not for the ARPA extra subsidies. The same is true in the states operating their own exchanges.” [KFF, 5/18/22]

NASHP: State-Based Marketplaces Say Many Will Lose Coverage if Premium Assistance Expires. “Immediate action to extend the enhanced subsidies is needed. Insurers have already begun analyses to set their rates for 2023, as SBMs begin making operational changes to prepare for the 2023 enrollment season.” [NASP, 5/18/22]

Families USA: Unless Congress Acts, Health Care Costs Will Soon Skyrocket For People Who Buy Their Own Insurance. “The last thing [American families] need is a 53% increase in their health insurance premiums. But that’s the average increase that will soon be charged to millions of people who buy their own health insurance through healthcare.gov—unless Congress extends the financial assistance provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) beyond this year. Without congressional intervention, premium costs for current coverage will shoot up by a staggering amount: more than $12 billion in additional charges to families across the country.” [Families USA, 5/16/22]

TODAY: U.S. Reps. Peter Welch and Lauren Underwood to Join Protect Our Care to Underscore Dire Need for Congress to Prevent Health Care Premium Hikes

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TUESDAY MAY 24 AT 12:30 PM ET***

Washington, DC — On Tuesday, May 24, U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) will join Protect Our Care for a virtual press conference to discuss the urgent need for Congress to prevent the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits from expiring. This year, a record 14.5 million people signed up for coverage through the ACA marketplaces thanks in large part to the enhanced tax credits, which saved families hundreds of dollars on their monthly health care costs. Now, Democrats are fighting to extend these tax credits for working families — but if Congress fails to act, premiums will skyrocket at the end of this year. Speakers will also discuss ongoing efforts to drive down health care costs and expand access to quality coverage for millions of Americans. 

Congresswoman Underwood led 26 Swing-District House Democratic Members in a letter urging Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer to prioritize lowering health care costs, including extending  the enhanced advance premium tax credits and expanding Medicaid coverage in upcoming reconciliation legislation.

PRESS CALL:
WHO:
U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL)
U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14)
Jessica Ice, patient storyteller
Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference to Discuss Urgent Need to Lower Health Costs & Expand Coverage In Build Back Better Act

WHERE: Register for the Event Here

WHEN: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 12:30 PM ET

Vermont Is The Canary In The Coal Mine

Insurers Already Seeking Premium Increases as High as 16.5 Percent

The American Rescue Plan saved families thousands of dollars on their health care premiums, but these savings are set to expire, and a health care crisis is looming. This week gave us the first glimpse into how this will play out across the country when private insurers in Vermont proposed rate increases as high as 16.5 percent. Unless Congress extends the health care premium reductions in the American Rescue Plan, millions of Americans will see dramatic increases in their 2023 health insurance premiums, and many will no longer be able to afford insurance at all. 

Experts say insurers are likely to seek double digit increases in state after state, due to issues like supply chain shortages, projected COVID costs, and increased hospital costs. Congress must move swiftly to prevent skyrocketing premium increases and protect health coverage for millions. If Congress does not act, news of premiums skyrocketing will be front and center just as Americans begin signing up for coverage in November.

The ARP and Vermont

In Vermont, the American Rescue Plan saved families thousands on their premiums, and if the expanded tax credits end this year, it will force more than 16,000 Vermonters to pay significantly more for their health coverage, and force 3,000 to become uninsured. 

The Premium Increase Timeline:

  • Currently Underway: Insurance providers are currently negotiating premium rates for 2023. If Congress does not act to extend the ARP’s premiums savings, insurers will be forced to assume the tax credits will expire at the end of the year, which will result in sizable premium price increases. Already, private health insurers in Vermont have requested approvals for double-digit premium increases from state regulators in 2023.
  • July: Most premium rate changes on state exchanges will start being  finalized and public in July. 
  • September & October: Enrollees will be notified of plan price changes officially in September and October, with rates required to be finalized by October 15.
  • November 1: The annual open enrollment period for ACA marketplaces begins November 1.
  • November 8: Election Day is November 8, one week after open enrollment for 2023 is set to begin

TODAY: Rep. Charlie Crist, Health Care Experts to Discuss New Report on Why Congress Must Act Quickly to Stop Health Insurance Premium Increases for Floridians

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY, MAY 19 AT 3:00 PM ET***

New Report Shows Impact to Health Coverage Affordability in Florida if Congress Fails to Make the Premium Tax Credits in the American Rescue Plan Permanent

St. Petersburg, FL— Today, May 19, 2022 at 3:00 PM ET, U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) and health care experts will join Protect Our Care Florida to discuss a new report that shows the premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan have made health coverage more affordable for Floridians. These premium tax credits dramatically lowered the cost of health care coverage for 2.6 million Floridians. 

The new report highlights recent studies showing that more than three million people – including 513,000 Floridians – could lose their coverage if Congress fails to make these enhanced premium tax credits permanent. The American Rescue Plan saved families thousands of dollars on their premiums, but the expanded tax credits that powered those savings will expire at the end of 2022, and as a result, premiums for next year’s plans will rise dramatically for millions who buy insurance on their own. Only Congress can prevent this from happening; it’s time to extend the ACA premium tax credits to ensure that hardworking families can continue to access the health care they need. 

PRESS CALL:

WHO:
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13)
Jodi Ray, Program Director of Florida Covering Kids & Families USF Health
Rory Noonan, Student

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference

WHEN: Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 3:00 PM ET

WHERE: Register For the Event Here 

TODAY: Advocates Discuss New Report on Why Congress Must Act Quickly to Stop Health Insurance Premium Increases for West Virginians

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY, MAY 19 AT 11:00 AM ET***

New Report Shows Impact to Health Coverage Affordability in West Virginia if Congress Fails to Make the Premium Tax Credits in the American Rescue Plan Permanent

West Virginia — Today, May 19, 2022 at 11:00 AM ET, West Virginia Delegate Shawn Fluharty, health care advocates, and storytellers will join Protect Our Care West Virginia to discuss a new report that shows the premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan have made health coverage more affordable for West Virginians. These premium tax credits dramatically lowered the cost of health care coverage for 21,594 West Virginians. Advocates in West Virginia also sent a letter to Senator Manchin highlighting what’s at stake for coverage affordability for West Virginians if Congress fails to extend the tax credits this year. 

The new report highlights recent studies showing that more than three million people – including 7,000 West Virginians – could lose their coverage if Congress fails to make these enhanced premium tax credits permanent. The American Rescue Plan saved families thousands of dollars on their premiums, but the expanded tax credits that powered those savings will expire at the end of 2022, and as a result, premiums for next year’s plans will rise dramatically for millions who buy insurance on their own. Only Congress can prevent this from happening; it’s time to extend the ACA premium tax credits to ensure that hardworking families can continue to access the health care they need. 

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE:

WHO:
Delegate Shawn Fluharty
Dr. Jessica Ice, West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare
Ryan Frankenberry, West Virginia Working Families Party
Lynette Maselli, Protect Our Care West Virginia     

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference 

WHEN: Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 11:00 AM ET

WHERE: Register For the Event Here

NEW AD: Rep. Davids’ Efforts to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs Highlighted in Patient Testimonial

Protect Our Care Builds on Seven-Figure Campaign With New Ads in 8 Key Districts Around the Country

Watch the Ad Here

Kansas — Today, Protect Our Care is releasing a new ad highlighting Sharice Davids’ (KS-03) efforts to bring down health care and prescription drug costs for Kansans. The ad features a testimonial from Mindy, a Type I diabetic who struggles to afford life saving medications. In the ad, Mindy tells her personal story and thanks lawmakers like Rep. Davids for standing up to big pharmaceutical companies and fighting to lower prescription drug prices and cap insulin costs. 

Polling shows that health care consistently ranks as a top concern for Americans, particularly when they are concerned about higher prices. People across political parties overwhelmingly support reforms to bring down health care costs. Protect Our Care’s new ad will begin running on Tuesday, May 17 on broadcast and cable television, streaming services, YouTube and other digital platforms. 

The new ad is part of a multi-million dollar campaign announced last month to support health care champions fighting to lower health care costs. The overall campaign is focused in the following districts: Reps. Cindy Axne (IA-03), Angie Craig (MN-02), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Susie Lee (NV-03), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), and Susan Wild (PA-07). Last month, Protect Our Care released ads highlighting Rep. Davids’ work to ban surprise medical bills and lower insulin prices. Watch the first ads in the series here.

“Rep. Davids is working tirelessly to lower the costs of health insurance and prescription drugs for Kansans,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Kansans are worried about rising costs and Rep. David’s is leading the fight to give them more breathing room as they manage their family budget. Thanks to Rep. Davids’ efforts, we are closer than ever to ensuring Kansans can afford the health care they need.” 

Ad Script for KS-03:
The drug companies just keep raising prices.
I pay three hundred and fifty dollars for my diabetes medication.
I can’t keep up with that…
But finally, Congress is doing something about it.
Congresswoman Sharice Davids.
She’s taking on big drug companies to cap the cost of insulin, and to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.
Fighting to bring down drug costs  – that means everything to me.
Congresswoman Sharice Davids.
Lowering costs, for us.