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Energy & Commerce Chairman Pallone, Congressman Butterfield and Protect Our Care Discuss Critical Health Care Provisions Needed in Next COVID Package

By April 17, 2020No Comments

Press Call This Morning Detailed the Need for Medicaid Expansion, Special Enrollment Period, Addressing Racial Disparities, Coverage Affordability, Banning Junk Plans and Funding Testing and PPE to Be Included in Congress’ Next Coronavirus Response Package

Call Audio Available Here

Washington, DC — On a press call this morning, Energy & Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ-06) along with E&C Subcommittee on Health Vice Chair G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-01) and Protect Our Care detailed the need for Congress to include critical health care provisions in the next coronavirus response package. While the first three response packages focused primarily on providing economic relief and increased funding for hospitals, Chairman Pallone, Congressman Butterfield and POC made clear that the next package must focus on protecting the health of individual Americans. Chairman Pallone and POC have proposed measures to address the immediate and longer-term health care needs highlighted by the crisis. The priorities outlined on the call include adequately funding testing, supporting Medicaid expansion and a Special Enrollment Period for the uninsured, ending junk plans and stopping the Trump-ACA repeal lawsuit that would rip health care away from more than 20 million Americans and 135 million with pre-existing conditions as Americans grapple with the coronavirus crisis. 

“While Congress has already passed legislation to provide free coronavirus testing for everyone and emergency funds for hospitals and health care providers, there is still an urgent need for additional action,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). “Democrats will fight to cover the cost of coronavirus treatment for everyone and expand access to affordable health care coverage. Our priorities include opening a Special Enrollment period so everyone has a chance to sign up for coverage, expanding eligibility and increasing subsidies to lower monthly premiums and incentivizing states to expand their Medicaid programs. Congress must come together to address the health care needs of the American people in order for us to overcome this pandemic and be able to reopen the economy.”

“With each passing day, we continue to see the need for additional robust action to combat the COVID-19 crisis,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC). “In North Carolina, and across the country, we are seeing a disproportionate impact of this virus on communities of color and rural and underserved populations. Improving access to care, testing, and treatment for minority populations, rural communities, and the under and uninsured must be a focus of the next coronavirus package.”

“In addition to continuing our investments in restoring our economy and addressing the financial needs of everyday Americans, the next big COVID bill needs to be a health care bill,” said Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care. “Americans are more worried than ever about their health and the health of their families and rightly expect to be able to be tested and treated with quality, affordable health care if they get sick, now or in the future. It’s time for President Trump and Republicans in Congress to do what’s right and drop their Texas lawsuit to repeal the ACA and end their support for junk plans that don’t include protections for pre-existing conditions.”

BACKGROUND:

Protect Our Care Is Calling on Congress to Address the Following in COVID-4

Provide Adequate Testing to Mitigate the Crisis and Give Us the Tools to Safely Reopen the Economy 

Congress should fund sufficient testing capacity, production and deployment to slow the spread of the virus by identifying those who are sick and contagious, sufficient capacity to test for the virus to allow identification and contact tracing to mitigate spread as the economy reopens, and sufficient testing for antibodies to guide public health decisions on reopening the economy. It should require adequate reporting requirements to track the status of the federal effort in real time. It should also fund adequate PPE for front line health care workers. 

Medicaid Expansion

Congress should incentivize Medicaid expansion so that more people are covered. Congress should incentivize the states that have yet to expand Medicaid by increasing the federal share of the cost so that any states that choose to expand Medicaid get a second chance to receive the same levels of federal funding as states which expanded earlier. 

Additional Support for State Medicaid Programs 

Congress should provide additional assistance to states by extending and expanding the increase in federal Medicaid match that was included in the Families First law and providing that increase for both traditional and expansion Medicaid populations. 

Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and Full Funding for SEP and Future Open Enrollment Periods 

Congress should open a Special Enrollment Period nationally so people who need health coverage can sign up on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. Additionally, restore full funding for enrollment activities, which has been curtailed by the Trump administration, including for navigators, outreach and advertising so that Americans are aware of their options and get the help and information they need to enroll in Medicaid or the ACA marketplaces.

Address Racial Disparities 

Congress should mandate the collection and dissemination of data on coronavirus cases by racial and ethnic outcomes, and ensure that testing and other health measures reach those who need it.

Make Health Insurance More Affordable 

Congress should increase financial assistance for those who qualify under the Affordable Care Act and expand the number of people who qualify.