House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn & Rep. Lauren Underwood Join Protect Our Care to Discuss Urgent Need to Lower Health Costs & Expand Coverage in Budget Package

Lawmakers Joined Health Care Storytellers to Discuss Closing the Medicaid Coverage Gap & Making American Rescue Plan Subsidies Permanent in Upcoming Budget Legislation 

Listen to the Call Here. 

Washington, DC — Today, U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC-06) and U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) joined Protect Our Care and health care storytellers for a virtual press conference to discuss the urgent need to close the Medicaid coverage gap and make the American Rescue Plan’s premium tax credits permanent in upcoming budget legislation. During the call, speakers made clear that these steps to expand coverage and reduce costs will transform health care for millions of working families and that Congress must act now to pass these historic measures. An estimated seven million people would gain coverage as a result of these two policies alone. 

President Biden included both of these measures as part of the Build Back Better proposal, but as Congress continues to negotiate, it is essential they remain in the final package. Polling shows strong, unwavering support among voters across the political spectrum for all of the Build Back Better health care priorities.

“Today, 12 states still have not expanded Medicaid, and one of those 12 happens to be my home state of South Carolina where 200,000 of my fellow South Carolinians are uninsured who would be eligible for Medicaid if our state expanded — 100,000 of them fall into the so-called coverage gap,” said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn. “Today, we have an opportunity to do something about this and we ought not wait on somebody else to do it. I think it would be un-American of us to leave citizens in these 12 states behind as we go on to improve other parts of health care services in our country. I’m hopeful that as we move forward, we do what is necessary to bring those people into coverage.” 

“Health care is a right, not a privilege, and we must advance universal coverage and health equity in the Build Back Better Act. Thanks to the two-year version of my Health Care Affordability Act that was included in the American Rescue Plan, we’ve cut our nation’s uninsured rate, provided substantial savings for individuals and families, and taken the most significant step towards health equity since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. But if we fail to act now and make the advance premium tax credit expansion permanent, all of this progress will be wiped out in just two years,” said Representative Lauren Underwood. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make high-quality health care affordable and accessible to all; the American people are counting on us to get this done, and we must deliver.”

“For several years, my three daughters and I went without health care and insurance because I could not afford it. It was a difficult and unacceptable space that many other lower-income American families are currently in,” said Carrie Duran, a Medicaid expansion recipient from New Hampshire. “Thanks to expanded Medicaid in my state, I no longer have to deny myself and my family health care. I urge lawmakers in states without expanded Medicaid to think of the importance of assisting lower-income families and to support ending the coverage gap.”

“Far too many Americans are struggling to afford health care in this country,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “More than two million people are locked out of coverage entirely in 12 states that have rejected Medicaid expansion, and millions more stand to benefit from reducing health care costs for people purchasing coverage on their own — including older adults, farmers, middle-class business owners and more. These steps are essential to reducing stark racial disparities in health coverage and ensuring people have access to the care they need during the pandemic and for years to come.”