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Capitol Hill

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.”

House Democrats Pass American Rescue Plan

Bill Provides Desperately Needed COVID Relief Including Historic Health Care Provisions

Washington, DC — Today, the House Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan, a historic step toward strengthening the Affordable Care Act and providing desperately needed pandemic relief, despite Republicans’ attempts to block it. The American Rescue Plan includes key health care provisions that will lower health care costs, expand coverage, and incentivize holdout states to expand Medicaid. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“This is a historic day for American health care. The American Rescue Plan will lower health insurance premiums for millions, get more Americans covered, and help address racial inequities. After four years of Republican efforts to sabotage and repeal the Affordable Care Act, the American people now are seeing the results they need and want. Elections matter. The American Rescue Plan is absolutely essential to beating this pandemic and rebuilding our economy, and it has overwhelming bipartisan support, in red states and blue states. Americans want vaccines in people’s arms, cash into families’ pockets, and kids back to school.  \But Republicans would rather play politics with our jobs and our lives than listen to the voices of their constituents. Democrats are using every tool available to them to get Americans relief, and Republicans should be ashamed of trying to block these efforts.” 

NEW REPORT: The American Rescue Plan Will Reduce Racial Disparities in Health Care

Read the full report here.

Washington, DC — As part of Black History Month, Protect Our Care is releasing a new report showing expanding the Affordable Care Act will help Black communities recover from the pandemic and address longstanding racial disparities in health care. The report comes as the House is poised to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes desperately needed pandemic relief and builds on the Affordable Care Act with historic provisions to lower health care costs, expand coverage, and incentivize holdout states to expand Medicaid. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“This report shows just how critical the American Rescue Plan is in working to eliminate racial inequities. Black people face systemic barriers to care and are overrepresented in the jobs that are on the front lines of battling the virus Black Americans are more likely to get sick and 1.4 times more likely to die from the virus. In addition to taking bold action to end the pandemic,  restart our economy and get working families back on their feet, the American Rescue Plan includes critical health care provisions to expand coverage and lower costs while addressing stark racial disparities in health care that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. That’s why it’s so important to pass the American Rescue Plan.”

Republicans Endanger Americans (And Their Own Political Futures) By Opposing President Biden’s Overwhelmingly Popular COVID Relief Plan

Washington, DC — Today, reporting shows Republican leaders are trying to prevent all their members from supporting President Biden’s overwhelmingly popular American Rescue Plan and endangering the health and safety of Americans in the process. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“Republicans are going to learn again, just as they did in 2020 when they ignored the severity of the pandemic and in 2018 after trying to repeal American health care, that defying the will of a large majority of the American people is political suicide. Republicans want to make it more likely you get infected with the virus and less likely you can get health care if you do. Why? Because they’d rather appease the radicals and extremists in the base of their party instead of following the will of the majority of the American people. Americans know that this rescue plan creates a surge in vaccines, delivers relief checks, will help schools reopen and make health care more affordable and accessible for people in red states and blue states so they want it passed now.

“But hey, if Republicans are intent on committing political suicide, who are we to stop them?”

New polling continues to highlight broad, bipartisan support for President Biden’s pandemic response and American Rescue Plan:

  • New Polling From Gallup Has Found That 67 Percent Of Americans, Including One In Three Republicans, Support President Biden’s Handling Of The Pandemic. “Several weeks into his first term in office, 67% of Americans approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the coronavirus… Biden’s current approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus includes 95% of Democrats, 66% of independents and 34% of Republicans.” [Gallup, 2/22/21]
  • According To Recent Polling By The New York Times, Seven In 10 Americans Support President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” “More than 7 in 10 Americans now back Mr. Biden’s aid package, according to new polling from the online research firm SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. That includes support from three-quarters of independent voters, 2 in 5 Republicans and nearly all Democrats. The overall support for the bill is even larger than the substantial majority of voters who said in January that they favored an end-of-year economic aid bill signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.” [New York Times, 2/19/21]

These new polls join the growing body of evidence that voters strongly support Biden’s response and want Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan:

  • A CBS Poll Found That A Large, Bipartisan Majority Of Americans Support Congressional Passage Of A New Stimulus Bill To Help Those Impacted By The Pandemic. “A very large and bipartisan majority of Americans would support congressional passage of a new stimulus bill to help those impacted by the pandemic… Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, as well as Americans of all income levels would approve of a COVID relief package.” [CBS, 2/10/21]

[CBS, 2/10/21]

  • Meanwhile, The CBS Poll Found That “Most Americans” Say Their Family’s Finances Have Been Impacted By The Pandemic — Highlighting The Need For More Relief. “Most Americans say their family’s finances have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in some way, including one in four Americans who say it has had a major impact. Lower-income Americans have been disproportionately affected: 35% of those with incomes under $50,000 say the coronavirus outbreak has left a major financial impact.” [CBS, 2/10/21]
  • Polling From Navigator Research Found That More Than Seven In Ten Americans Support Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” “More than seven in ten support Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan,’ and each provision of it earns support from at least three in five Americans.” [Navigator, 2/4/21]
  • The Navigator Poll Also Found That Key Provisions In The American Rescue Plan — Like Stimulus Checks — Have Support Across Demographic Groups, Including Republicans. According to the Navigator poll, 78 percent of Americans, including 60 percent of Republicans support new stimulus checks. Meanwhile, Republicans broadly support other key provisions: 57 percent support funding for vaccines and testing, 65 percent support paid family and sick leave, 64 percent support helping with health insurance premiums, 66 percent support small business grants, 53 percent support increasing the child tax credit, and 59 percent support rental assistance.
  • Hart Research Found That, Across Party Lines, Nearly Three Quarters Of Americans Favor Biden’s Rescue Plan And Want Congress To Pass It. “With support across party lines, large majorities favor President Biden’s COVID rescue plan and want Congress to pass it. After seeing the main provisions 74% favor the plan, including 46% who strongly favor it.” [Twitter, Geoff Garin, 1/28/21; polling for Protect Our Care]

    • Hart Research Found That Half Of Republicans Support The Relief Package. “There is broad, bipartisan support in the country for the Biden COVID package: 98% among Democrats; 72% among Independents; 50% among Republicans; 46% of Trump voters support it, even though it is explicitly identified with Biden.” [Twitter, Geoff Garin, 1/28/21; polling for Protect Our Care]
  • Quinnipiac University Polling Found That Nearly 8 In 10 Americans Support Sending $1,400 Stimulus Checks Directly To Americans. “Nearly 8 in 10 Americans are in favor of $1,400 stimulus payments to Americans with 78 percent supporting and 18 percent opposing.” [Quinnipiac University Poll, 2/3/21]
  • Quinnipiac Also Found That Most Americans — 61 Percent — Support Raising The Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour.  “Respondents also favor Biden’s call for a $15 per hour federal minimum wage by a 61% to 36% margin, according to the [Quinnipiac] survey. [CNBC, 2/3/21]
  • According To Data For Progress, Nearly 70 Percent Of Americans, Including 80 Percent Of Democrats, 70 Percent Of Independents, And 55 Percent Of Republicans, Want To Pass More Relief As Soon As Possible.  “The majority of voters (69 percent) prefer to pass more relief as soon as possible to support small businesses, schools and Americans who are struggling, rather than wait and see what aid may be needed. Notably, we find bipartisan support: 80 percent of self-identified Democratic voters, 70 percent of Independents and 55 percent of Republicans want relief as soon as possible.” [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]
  • 68 Percent Of Americans — Including 67 Percent Of Independents And 55 Percent Of Republicans — Are Prioritizing Support For The Economic Recovery, Rather Than Being Concerned WIth The National Debt. “We find that the majority of voters (68 percent) support prioritizing as much support as possible for our future economic recovery, rather than being concerned with the national debt. Again, we find bipartisan support: 80 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 55 percent of Republicans want as much recovery as possible now instead of prioritizing a bill that is less costly.” [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]
  • Voters Overwhelmingly Support The Key Provisions In The American Rescue Plan. “We tested voter support on the different areas of economic relief that President Biden’s plan proposes. This includes: additional $1400 stimulus checks, extending and expanding unemployment benefits, grants and loans for small businesses, extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures and providing utility aid to struggling families, expanding Child Income Tax Credits and Earned Income Tax Credits, increasing the minimum wage to $15, and a range of funding for vaccine distribution, to schools, and to state, local and territorial governments. Overwhelmingly voters support all of these key provisions, with extraordinarily high levels of support for immediate steps to increase our coronavirus response such as support for small businesses and funding to state, local and territorial governments to prevent layoffs of frontline essential workers and distribute the vaccine.“  [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]


[Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]

  • More Than Twice As Many Americans Support Key Elements Of Biden’s Agenda Than Oppose Them — The Most Popular Policies Being Those At The Center Of Biden’s Pandemic Proposal.  “When asked about the 20 policies that define President Biden’s agenda, more Americans support than oppose all 20 of them, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. The margins are decisive. The majority of Biden’s proposals garner at least twice as much support as opposition. Nearly half are favored by more than 60 percent of Americans… Of all 20 policies covered by the poll, the two most popular were the ones at the center of Biden’s current COVID proposal: $2,000 relief checks (74 percent favor vs. 13 percent oppose) and increased federal funding for vaccination (69 percent favor vs. 17 percent oppose). A full 58 percent of Americans also support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, another key element of Biden’s COVID-19 rescue package.” [Yahoo News/YouGov, 2/1/21]
  • Meanwhile, Eight In Ten Americans Cite Strengthening The Economy And Fighting The Pandemic As Top Priorities For The President To Address. “Currently, about eight-in-ten Americans say strengthening the nation’s economy (80%) and dealing with the coronavirus outbreak (78%) should be top priorities for the president and Congress to address this year. Two-thirds (67%) rate improving the job situation as a top priority.” [Pew Research, 1/28/21]

Roundup: More Medical Organizations Support Xavier Becerra’s Nomination As HHS Secretary

Support for Xavier Becerra’s nomination as Health and Human Services Secretary continues to roll in from the medical community. In addition to groups previously highlighted by POC, additional health care organizations have thrown their support behind Becerra, President Biden’s pick to lead HHS, ahead of his nomination hearings in the Senate HELP and Finance Committees this week. Becerra’s decades of health care experience and commitment to fighting for affordable health care for all have earned him the support of the medical community and make him an ideal pick to lead Americans through this pandemic. 

Alliance for Retired Americans: “Mr. Becerra has also been an active and effective advocate for lowering drug prices. Seniors proportionately spend more than other age groups on prescription drugs. His work has positively affected the economic and health security of our members. He and a bipartisan group of state Attorneys General have sued to hold drug corporations responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic. Mr. Becerra was also instrumental in the passage of legislation in California to stop pay-for-delay kickbacks that keep many drug prices artificially high and a leader in the battle to uphold the Affordable Care Act and protect the health care coverage of millions of patients.” (Full statement)

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry: “Mr. Becerra has a strong track record and a depth of experience in formulating and implementing policies and programs to address the crisis of opioid addiction… As Attorney General, Mr. Becerra has also promoted regulations to protect patient data while also ensuring the data can be used appropriately to protect against the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.” (Full statement)

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Mr. Becerra has long been a champion of ensuring all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care. As a member of Congress, Representative Becerra helped to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminate the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. As Attorney General of California, he defended the ACA against legal challenges in the case of Texas v. United States.” (Full statement)

America’s Essential Hospitals:Becerra has spent his career defending key programs of importance to essential hospitals and their communities, including Medicare and Medicaid. Most recently, in his role as attorney general of California, Becerra defended the 340B Drug Pricing Program and championed important protections for immigrant communities.” (Full statement)

American Kidney Fund: “HHS is one of the largest and most important federal agencies – especially now, during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic – and Mr. Becerra’s experience as both a legislator and an executive give him the needed expertise to lead during this crucial time. People with kidney disease need a strong leader at HHS now more than ever.” (Full statement)

American Nurses Association: As California Attorney General, Mr. Becerra has defended the Affordable Care Act and essential health benefits. He fought against hospital consolidation and short-term junk insurance plans which make health care more expensive for consumers. His experience running the Department of Justice in America’s largest state instills confidence that he is very capable of running one of the largest government agencies in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Full statement)

Association of American Medical Colleges: “Secretary-designate Becerra’s leadership experience – such as the efforts to protect patients’ access to health care and establish health equity initiatives that he led during his tenure as Attorney General of the State of California – will be an asset in this role. He also brings health policy expertise from his experience on the House Committee on Ways and Means where he championed affordable, comprehensive health care coverage for patients.” (Full statement)

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: “As the Attorney General of California, Mr. Becerra has demonstrated leadership in protecting kids from tobacco. Recognizing that youth are particularly vulnerable to nicotine use and addiction, he worked to protect kids from e-cigarette marketing and tobacco imagery in streamed video content. He also supported California’s new law ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, which are a key driver of youth tobacco use.” (Full statement)

Campaign for Sustainable Prescription Drug Pricing: “While in Congress, then-Representative Becerra worked diligently to enact to make health care more affordable and later, as Attorney General of California, continued that work. As part of his determined efforts on behalf of consumers, Attorney General Becerra has taken important actions to thwart egregious anti-competitive activity by the pharmaceutical industry aimed at protecting monopolies and keeping prescription drug prices needlessly high and unaffordable for far too many U.S. patients and their families. (Full statement)

Cancer Support Community: “Throughout his career, Mr. Becerra has always put patients first, including those impacted by cancer. Mr. Becerra was a proud co-sponsor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and actively worked to pass this landmark legislation. As a member of Congress, he steadfastly fought to protect and preserve the ACA by voting at least nine times against efforts to repeal and replace the law. He also sponsored the E-Centives Act, which provided incentives for Medicaid providers to improve quality of care by implementing electronic health records.” (Full statement)

Casa De Esperanza: “Mr. Becerra is a deeply qualified and passionate leader with a depth and breadth of experience that spans three decades of working to address violence against women and support survivors, ensure access to healthcare, and protect Social Security and Medicare. In May of 2020, as California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra called for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, stating that “[t]here’s no place for violence against women anywhere.” (Full statement)

Center for Medicare Advocacy: “Mr. Becerra has been a champion of expanding access to health care, from his time in Congress to his most recent role as California’s Attorney General. During his twelve terms in Congress, including while serving on the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, Mr. Becerra worked to improve the Medicare program as well as health care access more broadly.” (Full statement)

Futures Without Violence: Xavier Becerra is a highly qualified and passionate leader with demonstrated depth and breadth of experience spanning three decades. As Attorney General of California, he joined with Attorneys General from across the country in 2018 and 2020 to advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. His defense of the Affordable Care Act has meant essential health care access and coverage for many previously uninsured people, including those experiencing sexual and domestic violence.” (Full statement)

Leading Age:We support the nomination of Secretary-Nominee Becerra to be the next HHS Secretary to advocate for and carry out the robust health care platform outlined by President Joe Biden. We have confidence that he has the health care expertise and experience managing large systems that are critical to successfully leading HHS and that he will work with Congress to take quick action…” (Full statement)

Mental Health America: “As a member of Congress, he sponsored and supported legislation that has proven essential on the journey to health equity for all our people, including those affected by mental illnesses. As the Attorney General of California, his efforts in support of enforcing mental health parity, for example, are well-known and critically important.” (Full statement)

National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Attorney General Becerra has been a true leader on mental health and addiction issues, tirelessly defending the ACA and working to enforce federal & state mental health parity laws. As California’s Attorney General he led efforts on the part of states to challenge measures taken by the previous Administration to undermine a series of patient protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under his leadership, California also stepped up enforcement and compliance with respect to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) ensuring more equitable coverage of mental illness treatment.” (Full statement)

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence: Xavier Becerra is a demonstrated leader who brings decades of health policy experience addressing violence against women and support services, ensuring access to healthcare, and protecting Social Security and Medicare. His long history of defending and protecting the Affordable Care Act has provided essential health care access and coverage for many previously uninsured people, including those experiencing sexual violence and trauma.” (Full statement)

National Association of Community Health Centers: Attorney General Becerra has a long-established relationship with California health centers and NACHC. As a former Member of Congress from Los Angeles, and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, he consistently sought feedback from local health center leadership through roundtable events and regular communications with the Los Angeles Community Clinic Consortium.” (Full statement)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: “Becerra has a proven record of fighting for access to healthcare for all Americans. This includes leading the legal campaign to prevent the Affordable Care Act from being dismantled, thereby protecting millions of survivors’ access to healthcare.” (Full statement)

National Council on Aging: “While playing a leadership role in providing health coverage to millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans under the Affordable Care Act and championing improvements to women’s health, he also authored Medicare proposals focused on improving care for beneficiaries in need… NCOA had the privilege of working closely with then-Rep. Becerra and his staff on legislation he introduced in 2007 and 2009 to make health care more affordable for low-income Medicare beneficiaries whose fixed incomes made it difficult to afford rising health care costs.” (Full statement)

National Organization of Rare Disorders: Attorney General Becerra has spent a career in both Washington and California advancing policies that have improved access to affordable and comprehensive health care…We are confident that his experience will enable to him to effectively lead HHS and support the implementation of policies that can help address pressing health needs of the rare disease community.” (Full statement)

Xavier Becerra Will Protect Health Care and Expand Access

Senate HELP and Finance Committees Will Hold Confirmation Hearings for Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra This Week

President Biden’s historic pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, California Attorney General  Xavier Becerra, has decades of experience protecting health care access, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and has worked to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. If confirmed, Becerra will be a strong advocate for health care.

Secretary-designate Becerra is an experienced litigator who is more than capable of protecting health care access and affordability. As California’s attorney general, Becerra was instrumental in filing over 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration, including leading the fight in Texas v. California, another attempt by Republicans to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Becerra also worked with 11 state attorneys general to protect consumers against so-called junk health care plans that evade ACA basic coverage requirements. In 2014, when House Republicans tried to stop cost sharing reduction payments, Becerra intervened on behalf of consumers and helped to reach a settlement. After the Trump administration targeted immigrant families who rely on health safety net programs with the “Public Charge” rule, Becerra led a coalition of attorneys general who successfully won a preliminary injunction against the rule. 

Secretary-designate Becerra is also an experienced legislator. Before Becerra was attorney general of California, he spent 24 years in the House of Representatives including time at the Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee,where he worked tirelessly to protect Medicare and Social Security. There, he was an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act which has extended coverage to more than 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions. Becerra helped draft the bipartisan Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), which directed the HHS Secretary to study the impact of socioeconomic status on Medicaid’s value-based programs. Becerra is also an experienced dealmaker who has worked to resolve legislative conflicts. During ACA negotiations, Becerra was essential in resolving a conflict between members with urban and rural districts and won the confidence of both sides by ensuring a funding model that relied on facts and science.

Secretary-designate Becerra has fought for affordable and accessible prescription drug prices during his career. As attorney general, he led the defense of California’s law that bans “pay for delay” agreements that keep generic versions of medications off of the market. As part of this defense, Becerra was able to secure $70 million in agreements against pharmaceutical companies He led a bipartisan group of attorneys general to force major drug manufacturers to follow the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which provides drug discounts to low income and uninsured groups. As a member of the House, Becerra launched a House Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force in 2016, which sought to address the rising costs of prescription drugs. Becerra is unafraid to stand up to drug manufacturers, having secured a $10 million agreement with the pharmaceutical companies Royal Pharmaceuticals and Seton Pharmaceuticals after a reporting error led to the underpayment of Medicaid drug rebates. Becerra will be able to work to ensure that pharmaceutical drugs are affordable and accessible. 

Secretary-designate Becerra is also the right fit for this position at a time when HHS needs a strong leader who will work with the entirety of the government to put an end to the pandemic. From the beginning of the pandemic, Becerra urged former President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to provide sufficient PPE. In the midst of the pandemic, Becerra joined other attorneys general in calling on CMS Administrator Seema Verma to increase transparency and accountability from nursing homes. As a result, CMS issued interim rules that required nursing homes to inform family members about COVID-19 infections and ensured that federal health agencies received data on any cases. Becerra also led the fight to ensure that potentially-lifesaving drugs to combat COVID-19 were available to those that need them.

In the middle of a pandemic that has killed 500,000 Americans, needlessly delaying this confirmation process continues to put more lives at risk. President Biden has already taken bold action to combat the pandemic, but he cannot go it alone, and he needs to have a Senate-confirmed HHS Secretary to work to end the pandemic.

Xavier Becerra Has the Experience and Qualifications Needed to Be Secretary of HHS:

Expanding Access To Care & Lowering Costs

  • Becerra was an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act and helped write the portion of the ACA that addresses Medicare benefits and reimbursements. 
  • Becerra served in Congress for 24 years and was the first Latino to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee where he tirelessly worked to protect Medicare and Social Security.
  • Starting in 2007, Becerra was the lead sponsor of the Medicare Savings Programs Improvement Act. The bill expanded cost-sharing subsidies for low-income seniors who receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits by increasing the amount of resources they could receive and making assistance available to more seniors who need medical care, but can’t afford it. Portions of Becerra’s legislation were included in legislation passed by the House in 2008 and 2015
  • Becerra sponsored legislation to raise the cap on benefits for patients receiving Medicare physical therapy. 
  • In 2009, Becerra sponsored the E-Centives Act, which provided incentives for Medicaid providers to improve care by implementing electronic health records. A version of Becerra’s bill was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 
  • Becerra helped draft the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act (IMPACT) of 2014, requiring the HHS Secretary to conduct research on issues related to socioeconomic status in Medicare’s value-based programs.
  • During negotiations over the ACA, Speaker Pelosi asked Becerra to resolve a dispute between a group of members of Congress representing rural areas and members ailing from large urban areas about the fairness of Medicare payments.  Becerra secured their confidence in how the ACA would handle Medicare payments by assuring them that Congress would rely on the facts and science to determine payments long-term and he secured short-term relief for states with Medicare per enrollment spending (states that represented more rural areas) — an additional $400 million for their communities, each year for two consecutive years.
  • As California Attorney General, Becerra worked with the state senate on legislation that would make healthcare more affordable and accessible by cracking down on anticompetitive behavior and consolidation in the healthcare market. The bill required the Attorney General’s Office to review and approve affiliations or acquisitions between healthcare systems, facilities, or provider groups to ensure transactions either improve care coordination or increase healthcare access for underserved populations. 
  • As California Attorney General, Becerra took on Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in northern California, reaching a $575 million settlement for anti-competitive behavior and price gouging charges.

Fighting to Protect the Affordable Care Act

  • In the House, Becerra fought back against multiple attempts to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act, voting at least nine times against efforts to fully repeal or defund the law. Becerra stood up to protect the law and its achievements, which he said he was “very proud” of. 
  • Becerra has been a stalwart legal defender of the Affordable Care Act, taking on at least four cases to protect the law: 
    • Becerra has led the 20+ state coalition of attorneys general fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act from the Republican effort to repeal the entire law via the California v. Texas lawsuit. The case was heard at the Supreme Court on November 10, 2020. 
    • Becerra joined a coalition of attorneys general filing a lawsuit in opposition to the Trump administration’s expansion of Association Health Plans that offer junk insurance that doesn’t have to comply with ACA coverage requirements and protections. 
    • Becerra intervened in House v. Hargan, a lawsuit filed by Republicans seeking to eliminate cost sharing reduction payments and undercut the affordability of the ACA’s health plans. He then led a multi-state coalition in California v. Trump suing the administration over its decision to stop making CSR payments as required by the ACA. 
  • Becerra led a coalition of attorneys general who successfully secured a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s “Public Charge” rule, which targeted immigrant families who often rely on health safety net programs. 

Reducing Drug Prices

  • Becerra led the defense of California’s law banning collusive “pay for delay” pharmaceutical agreements that delay generic drugs from entering the market and keep costs high. Becerra secured nearly $70 million in settlements against drug companies for entering these “pay for delay” agreements. 
  • Becerra launched a House Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force in 2016 to address the rising costs of prescription drugs. 
  • Becerra led a bipartisan coalition to protect the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which provides drug discounts to low-income and uninsured populations. 
  • Becerra helped secure a $10 million settlement with two pharmaceutical companies, Royal Pharmaceuticals and Seton Pharmaceuticals, after a reporting error led to the underpayment of Medicaid drug rebates.

Fighting The Covid-19 Pandemic

  • Becerra led a bipartisan multi-state coalition to urge the federal government to take action to increase the supply and affordability of drugs to fight Covid-19.
  • Becerra has repeatedly urged President Trump to fully invoke the National Defense Production Act to ensure that Americans have enough PPE. 
  • In May 2020, Becerra and other state attorneys general called on CMS Administrator Seema Verma to increase transparency and accountability from nursing homes as Covid-19 continued to spread through Medicare and Medicaid facilities. Following Becerra’s letter, CMS issued interim rules to ensure that nursing homes would quickly notify family members of illness and provide data to federal public health institutions about any cases

Reproductive Rights And Equitable Care

  • Becerra sued to overturn the Trump administration’s “Healthcare Refusal Rule,” which jeopardizes health and safety by allowing anyone remotely involved in a healthcare transaction—from doctors to ambulance drivers or front office staff— to deny care on religious or moral objections. 
  • Becerra is a stalwart supporter of reproductive freedom. He led a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s rules that would take away access to birth control and defended the Title X Family Planning Program in court, which funds care for more than four million people each year. 

State Leaders Urge Swift Confirmation of Xavier Becerra

In op-eds across the country, state leaders, including doctors, elected officials, and health care advocates, urged the Senate to move quickly to confirm Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra has decades of experience protecting and expanding health care access, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and fighting for health care equity. These state leaders make clear that needlessly delaying this confirmation process will put more lives at risk in the middle of a pandemic that has killed nearly 500,000 Americans. President Biden has already taken bold action to combat the pandemic, but he cannot go it alone, and he needs to have a Senate-confirmed HHS Secretary to work to end the pandemic.

ALASKA

Michelle Turner, Alaskan Environmental Scientist: We Need Health Care Leadership Now. “Key to President Biden’s plan to slow the spread of the virus, and rebuild our economy is his appointment of a competent, experienced, diverse team, led by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra. Mr. Becerra is the right person for the job; it is essential that he be confirmed and assume his duties as soon as possible.” [Midnight Sun, 2/2/21

FLORIDA

Dr. Manrique Iriarte, Primary Care Doctor In Miami: To Florida’s Senators — Confirm Xavier Becerra For HHS Secretary To Jump-Start Federal Covid-19 Response. “With more than 400,000 American lives lost to COVID-19, including 24,000 Floridians and millions more out of work, the Joe Biden administration must make up for lost time in tackling the pandemic and rebuilding our nation’s economy. That is why, now more than ever, we need a strong, experienced leader to serve as Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, and Xavier Becerra is the right person for the job. Congress should immediately move to confirm his nomination once it is up for a vote in the Senate — including our two Senators from Florida.” [FloridaPolitics, 1/21/21

MAINE

Don Berry, President Of The Maine Chapter Of The Alliance For Retired Americans: Becerra Is The Right Person To Head HHS. Senate Should Confirm Him Quickly. “We have waited long enough for real leadership, and with the virus spreading in Maine and across the country, we cannot wait any longer. The pandemic demands a strong and knowledgeable HHS secretary who can marshal the people and resources to not only contain the spread of the virus, but also ensure a smooth and equitable vaccination distribution program that doesn’t leave communities behind. Xavier Becerra is the right person at the right time and he deserves the support of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate. To delay his appointment is to prolong our suffering and put millions more Americans’ lives in jeopardy.” [Bangor Daily News, 2/10/21

NORTH CAROLINA

David Miner, Former Republican Member Of The NC General Assembly: Xavier Becerra’s Leadership At HHS Will Jumpstart Federal Covid-19 Response. “Throughout his career, Xavier Becerra has been on the frontlines fighting to expand access to affordable care and protect underserved communities. As a member of Congress, Becerra was an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act, and a staunch defender of Medicare and Medicaid.” [BlueNC, 1/26/21

OHIO

Franklin Co. Commissioner John Grady: Confirm Becerra For HHS To Defend Health Care. “President Joe Biden has smartly selected Xavier Becerra, the ACA’s defender-in-chief, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.  For the past four years, Americans have watched the Trump administration repeatedly and relentlessly attack the ACA — even amidst a national public health emergency. Congress now must confirm a health care champion as Secretary of HHS.” [Columbus Dispatch, 2/3/21

Doni Miller, CEO Of Neighborhood Health Association: Becerra’s Leadership Will Jumpstart U.S. Coronavirus Response. “In his 24 years in Congress, Mr. Becerra worked across the aisle to get things done, prioritizing the health and safety of his community over partisan differences. As HHS Secretary, Mr. Becerra will ‘hit the reset’ experts are call-ing for to revitalize our country’s vaccine rollout.” [Toledo Blade, 1/29/21

WISCONSIN

Dr. Joanna Bisgrove And Dr. Jeff Huener, Family Physicians: Wisconsinites Can’t Wait: Confirm The Next Secretary Of Health And Human Services ASAP. “As the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden crafts plans to get the pandemic under control, they will also have to contend with the forthcoming decision in the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Given the enormity of these twin challenges facing the U.S. health care system, the nomination of Xavier Becerra, the ACA’s defender-in-chief, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services is a superb choice.” [Wisconsin Examiner, 1/19/21

Jocasta Zamarripa, Milwaukee Alderwoman And First Latina Elected To The Wisconsin Legislature: We Need Andrea Palm and Xavier Becerra in Biden’s Health and Human Services. “Becerra’s nomination demonstrates the seriousness with which President Biden has been working to develop a comprehensive plan to get the virus under control, so that we can rebuild our economy quickly. As a former member of Congress who led the fight to expand health care and who has been fiercely defending in court every American’s ability to access that care, Becerra is uniquely qualified to serve as Health and Human Services Secretary. [UpNorthNews, 2/21/21]

House Ways and Means Committee Votes Through Vital Health Care Measures in American Rescue Plan

Washington, DC — House Democrats, led by Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA-01), passed key health care measures of the American Rescue Plan out of the Ways and Means Committee today. These major provisions will lower health care costs and expand coverage, building on the Affordable Care Act. Increasing financial assistance on the ACA Marketplace means more people will be able to get the affordable coverage they need during the pandemic. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“This is a big week for health care in America. After four years of Republican sabotage, lawsuits and repeated efforts to repeal the ACA, millions more Americans will soon have quality health care they can afford. These health care provisions are going to make a real difference in the lives of Americans. Democrats are lowering the cost of premiums for millions by increasing financial assistance through the Affordable Care Act and making that support available to more middle class families. These measures eliminate premiums for people who are receiving unemployment insurance so they can continue to have access to care. Making health care more affordable and accessible is even more critical during this pandemic. Americans in red states and blue states are united behind these ideas and Republicans should listen to their voters and stop their opposition. Democrats are right to use every tool at their disposal to get Americans the relief they need.”

COVERAGE: It’s a Big Week in Health Care (And It’s Only Thursday)

Democrats Make Historic Strides in Health Care

Just three weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency, he’s already proven himself as a health care champion. Since taking office, President Biden proposed the American Rescue Plan to help the country get the pandemic under control, proposed significant enhancements to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, and announced an upcoming special enrollment period so people impacted by the pandemic can get health insurance. This week, House Democrats worked to strengthen the vital health care provisions in the American Rescue Plan, and President Biden reversed Trump’s health care sabotage by putting the full support of the administration behind the ACA and denouncing the reckless lawsuit to invalidate the law. Coverage shows President Biden is prioritizing strengthening the ACA by expanding access to insurance and lowering costs. 

Democrats Include Key Health Care Measures In Their COVID Relief Package

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

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

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

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]

The Hill: Black Maternal Health Omnibus Package Introduced By Democratic Lawmakers. “A trio of Black lawmakers on Monday introduced an omnibus bill aimed at combating the significant health inequities that Black mothers face across the country…The package of bills would fund community organizations and state and local governments working to improve maternal health outcomes, training programs on bias, racism and discrimination in maternity care settings, and efforts to grow the perinatal workforce. It would also seek to address social determinants of health that can lead to poor health outcomes including access to housing, healthy food and water, transportation, child care services and improving access to health care.”  [The Hill, 2/8/21

Washington Post: The Health 202: Congress Is Moving To Lengthen Medicaid Coverage For New Moms. “Congressional Democrats have taken on a side project as they push forward President Biden’s coronavirus relief bill: nudging states to broaden their Medicaid programs. That includes lengthening coverage for new moms — a key Medicaid population who, in some states, can still get kicked off the program relatively quickly after giving birth. Legislation being marked up today says state Medicaid programs can cover new mothers for a full year.” [Washington Post, 2/11/21]

Stat: House Democrats Slip Drug-Pricing Proposal Into Covid-19 Relief Bill. “The policy aims to help states recoup some of the costs they incur in their Medicaid programs when drug makers hike the prices of certain drugs. Right now, federal law caps how much states can collect. Congress’s new policy would rescind that so-called ‘Medicaid rebate cap.’ The policy will have the biggest impact on drugs like insulin, which have seen massive price hikes and for which drug makers also give big discounts to private insurers.” [Stat, 2/9/21

President Biden Defends The ACA In Court

Wall Street Journal: Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court To Reject Challenge To Affordable Care Act. “The move was expected, as President Biden campaigned on expanding Obamacare along with a more vigorous federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Trump throughout his term denounced the signature law of the Obama administration, although he never proposed any alternative healthcare program after the Republican-controlled Congress rejected legislation to repeal the measure.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/10/21

Washington Post: Biden Administration Tells Supreme Court Obamacare Is Constitutional, Should Be Saved. “Just as Trump vowed to demolish Obamacare, as former president Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is known, Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, promised during the 2020 campaign to strengthen and build on the health-care law.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21

New York Times: Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court To Uphold Affordable Care Act. “In the years since the enactment of the law in 2010, Republicans have worked hard to destroy it, and President Donald J. Trump relentlessly criticized it. But attempts to repeal it failed, as did two earlier Supreme Court challenges, in 2012 and 2015. With the passing years, the law grew in popularity and was woven into the fabric of the health care system, and its future has appeared increasingly secure.” [New York Times, 2/10/21

CNN: Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court To Save Obamacare, Flipping Trump Arguments. “The Biden administration told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it should uphold the Affordable Care Act, reversing the position of the Trump administration that had urged the justices to strike down the entire law amid the coronavirus pandemic…Wednesday’s move highlights President Joe Biden’s belief that the law is on strong legal footing. Last month, Biden announced he would reopen enrollment on the Affordable Care Act exchanges for three months, announcing that he was signing executive orders related to the law to ‘undo the damage Trump has done.’ The special enrollment period starts on Monday.” [CNN, 2/10/21

The Hill: Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court To Uphold ObamaCare. “The Biden administration on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a reversal from the Trump administration’s backing of a constitutional challenge to the sweeping health care law…The development, while unsurprising, marked a dramatic shift in legal positions since November when the justices heard oral arguments in the case.” [The Hill, 2/10/21

Politico: Biden Admin Asks SCOTUS To Uphold Obamacare, Reversing Trump Support For Lawsuit. “The Biden administration is withdrawing the federal government’s support for a challenge to Obamacare, telling the Supreme Court that the law should remain on the books. The move by the Justice Department follows speculation on whether Biden would try to withdraw from the high-profile red state lawsuit — fully supported by the Trump administration — to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act.” [Politico, 2/10/21

Modern Healthcare: Biden Administration Supports ACA At Supreme Court, Drops Trump-Era Challenge. “While the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the Biden administration on Wednesday took steps to support the landmark healthcare law. In a letter to the high court, the Justice Department under the new administration said it believes Obamacare’s individual mandate is constitutional. But if the justices disagree, the Biden administration believes the rest of the Affordable Care Act can stand without the provision requiring insurance coverage.” [Modern Healthcare, 2/10/21

Reuters: Biden Administration Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Uphold Obamacare Law. “President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday told the U.S. Supreme Court that the Obamacare healthcare law should be upheld, reversing the position taken by the government under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.” [Reuters, 2/10/21

NBC News: Justice Department Switches Sides, Urging Supreme Court To Uphold Obamacare. “The Justice Department notified the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it no longer supports the effort by Texas and other red states to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.” [NBC News, 2/10/21

American Rescue Plan Includes Critical Medicaid Expansion Measures

Watch Protect Our Care’s Video Explainer Here

Washington, DC — House Democrats released parts of their American Rescue Plan Tuesday night, which would incentivize the 12 remaining holdout states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. If these states expanded Medicaid, nearly 6 million could gain coverage. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider the bill this week. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Congressional Democrats are taking decisive action to expand health care coverage to Americans when they need it the most — in the middle of a pandemic when millions have lost their jobs or their health insurance. After years of Republican led sabotage, lawsuits and attempts at repeal, House Democrats are delivering on their promise to lower health care costs, improve care, and expand coverage. This is a historic week in the fight for better health care. Medicaid expansion has played a vital role in reducing racial disparities in health care access and has served as a critical safety net for millions. Providing increased financial incentives for states to expand Medicaid could expand coverage to six million more Americans. The bill also works to reduce racial inequities by addressing the maternal mortality crisis, by enabling states to expand Medicaid coverage to new mothers 12 months postpartum. For far too long states with Republican governors like Texas, Georgia, and Florida have refused to expand Medicaid and have instead chosen to deny their constituents the affordable quality health care they deserve. Now, they will have no more excuses.”