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Protect Our Care Calls on Congress to Include Critical Health Needs in Next Coronavirus Response Package

By April 15, 2020No Comments

Leading Health Care Group Says Medicaid Expansion, Special Enrollment Period, Addressing Racial Disparities, Coverage Affordability, Banning Junk Plans and Funding Testing and PPE Among Priorities Which Must Be Addressed in Next Coronavirus Response Package 

Washington, DC — Protect Our Care (POC), a leading health care advocacy group which was founded to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to provide affordable and quality health care for all Americans, is calling on Congress to include critical health care provisions in the next coronavirus response package. While the first three response packages focused primarily on economic issues, POC believes the next package must also focus clearly on protecting the health of Americans. Specifically, POC believes adequately funding testing, supporting Medicaid expansion and a Special Enrollment Period for the uninsured, addressing racial disparities, making coverage more affordable, banning junk plans, stopping the Trump-ACA repeal lawsuit and adequately safeguarding health care workers are among the health care priorities which must be addressed in the next package. Many of these provisions were included in a recent proposal by U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Richard Neal (D-MA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA) and U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Patty Murray (D-WA).

“Americans are understandably worried about their health and the health of their families during this crisis and expect to be able to be tested and treated with quality affordable health care if they get sick,” said Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care. “But right now far too many Americans can’t afford to see a doctor and aren’t getting the care they need, which is why Congress must take action to lower costs and expand access at a time when people need it most. Americans are now suffering because of President Trump and Republicans in Congress’s relentless opposition to common sense health care reform and their ongoing efforts to gut Medicaid and repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act. It’s time they did what was right.” 

“Making sure our economy survives and that workers, small businesses and providers are taken care of is obviously critical, but we won’t emerge from this until we address critical health care needs including coverage, affordability and testing, to just name a few,” added Brad Woodhouse, Executive Director of Protect Our Care. “America was less prepared for this pandemic because of President Trump’s relentless war on health care and as a result we are playing catch up during a full blown health care crisis. Setting aside President Trump’s failure to prepare America for this health care calamity, Congress must address these critical coronavirus health care priorities now.”

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.

End Junk Plans 

Congress should block efforts by the administration to push junk insurance plans that discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Every American who has coronavirus, even if they don’t have symptoms, will now have a pre-existing condition.

Stop the Trump-Texas Lawsuit 

Congress should block funding for the Trump-Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. 

Allow Young Adults to Stay on Their Parent’s Health Care Plans Longer

Young adults should be able to stay on their parent’s plan past the age of 26 during the pandemic, given the difficult job market.