June 29, 2020

New Democrat Coalition Chair and Health Care Task Force Co-Chairs Statement on House Passage of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act

Today, New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chairs Angie Craig (MN-02), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09) released the following statements on House passage of H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act.

“New Democrats have been laser focused on ensuring that all Americans can have quality, affordable health care. We’ve pushed to stabilize and improve upon the Affordable Care Act, and we are pleased to see today’s bill include several New Dem priorities to make health care more affordable and accessible. In the wake of the Trump Administration’s court filing that pushes for a complete and total repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Congress must continue to act to fight back and work to improve the ACA,” said NDC Chair Derek Kilmer.

“Les and his family farm in my district - they pay over $20,000 a year in premiums - with a $12,000 deductible in the individual marketplace. Another farmer farms by flashlight and works during the day – just for the family health insurance. These examples show the heart of the problem: if health care isn’t affordable, it isn’t accessible,” said NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Angie Craig. “I’m proud to be leading the effort to build on the important progress we’ve made. It’s long past time to stop trying to tear down and throw out the ACA. It’s time to work together to build the healthcare system Americans need and deserve.”

“Given the current health crisis that we are in with COVID-19, strengthening the Affordable Care Act is more important than ever before. I am proud to lead an effort included in today’s bill, to ensure that folks who are losing their employer-sponsored coverage are aware that their options to maintain health care include both COBRA and the marketplace. No American family should be without coverage because of COVID-19 related job loss. The reinsurance provisions in H.R. 1425 will bolster efforts states like Oregon are already doing and will provide other states opportunities to afford this type of program. This will bring down costs for everybody in the individual market. Since the ACA went into effect, we have seen positive trends in coverage and utilization. We must continue to build on the parts we know that are working and no small part of that is the expansion of Medicaid. All of our states are facing budget crises and more folks are shifting over to Medicaid. While providing health care is an investment upfront, it pays dividends on the back end by driving preventative care and reducing costly treatments,” said NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Kurt Schrader.

“The Affordable Care Act was a phenomenal first step that provided protection for 26 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who otherwise would not have access to health insurance. I have heard from many constituents that the cost of premiums and other expenses are putting health care out of reach. The Patient Protect and Affordable Care Enhancement Act addresses this by capping premiums to 8.5% of a family’s income, which will cut premiums in half for the average family in my district. That is a tangible difference and will ensure that people get the care they need, when they need it,” said NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Kim Schrier, M.D.

“As we face a once-in-a-generation crisis, Arizonans need to know their health care is protected. That's why we're prioritizing solutions that protect patients with preexisting conditions and lower prescription drug prices and health care costs," said NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Greg Stanton. "It’s unconscionable that the Trump administration and 18 state attorneys general—including Arizona’s—would try to strip away health coverage from as many as 23 million Americans during a pandemic, with no plan in place to ensure families can get the care they need. We should be working together on solutions to strengthen our health care system, not tear it down.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act includes provisions from the following New Democrat Coalition endorsed bills:

  • H.R. 1425State Health Care Premium Reduction Act, introduced by NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Angie Craig (MN-02) with NDC Vice Chair Scott Peters (CA-52), would provide $10 billion annually for states to apply for funding to establish a state reinsurance program or to provide financial assistance for individuals enrolled in qualified health plans by reducing their out-of-pocket costs. The bill further requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish and implement a reinsurance program in states that do not apply for federal funding.
  • H.R. 584Incentivizing Medicaid Expansion Act, introduced by New Dem Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33), would allow states that have not previously expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be eligible for the same federal matches as those who acted within the window, which would increase coverage for an additional 4.8 million Americans. Under the ACA, the federal government covered the full cost of Medicaid expansion during the first three years of the ACA for states that chose to expand their Medicaid programs to cover individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • H.R. 2061Pathway to Universal Coverage Act, introduced by NDC Leadership Member Ami Bera (CA-07), would authorize grants to states to experiment with ways to increase enrollment in their health insurance markets, with a particular focus on experimenting with auto-enrollment for those individuals who qualify for $0 premium health plans but are currently uninsured. 

Additionally, the bill will:

  • Expand the ACA’s insurance affordability subsidies to cover more middle-class families while also strengthening benefits for those already receiving them
  • Cut premiums in half for enrollees and, for the first time, no one will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for a silver plan in the ACA marketplaces
  • Expand more affordable coverage to vulnerable populations and help fight the maternal mortality epidemic by requiring states to extend Medicaid or CHIP coverage to new mothers for a full year post-partum
  • Reverse the Trump Administration’s expansion of junk health insurance plans which are able to discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions and do not provide coverage for essential medical treatments and drugs

This Congress, the NDC has led efforts to stabilize ACA and protect Americans’ health care. At the beginning of the Congress, the NDC urged House Leaders to prioritize strengthening the Affordable Care Act and continue the path forward toward affordable universal coverage. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act advances two of the NDC’s 20 for 2020 Policy Agenda priorities: “Expand Affordable Health Coverage” and “Reduce Health Care Costs.”