February 06, 2020

New Democrat Coalition Endorses Slate of Bills to Strengthen the Health Care System

Today, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) endorsed legislation put forward by the NDC Health Care Task Force to strengthen the nation’s existing health care system. The slate of seven bills presents common-sense and innovative solutions to improve health care coverage and reduce costs for Americans. 

The NDC endorsed the following NDC Member-led bills:

  • H.R. 3107 – Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, introduced by NDC Vice Chair Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), would improve delivery of care by streamlining and standardizing prior authorization in Medicare Advantage.
  • H.R. 2061 – Pathway 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.
  • H.R. 4336 – Easy Enrollment Act, introduced by NDC Leadership Member Rep. Ami Bera (CA-07), would align open enrollment periods for Exchange plans with the deadline for filing Federal income tax returns when individuals have more up-to-date financial information and may be receiving a tax refund.
  • H.R. 1763 – Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, introduced by NDC Vice Chair Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), would help communities facing a shortage of physicians by adding 15,000 new Graduate Medical Education (GME) residency slots over the next five years and increasing the slots at teaching hospitals training at least 10 residents above their current applicable cap and training additional physicians in shortage specialties. The bill also requires the Comptroller General to conduct a study and analysis on strategies for increasing the number of health professionals from rural, lower income, and underrepresented minority communities.
  • H.R. 2564 – Medicare Enrollment Protection Act, introduced by NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-05), would ensure that seniors who choose to utilize COBRA for health care coverage after becoming Medicare eligible, do not face lifetime penalties when transitioning to Medicare Part B, and provides improved communication and recourse for those who receive misinformation about their options.
  • H.R. 4575 – Improving Provider Directories Act, introduced by NDC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Kim Schrier (WA-08), would increase the accuracy of information listed on health plan provider directories to protect patients from surprise out-of-network bills by requiring health plans to prominently display a way for the public to report errors, and update inaccuracies within 30 days of being notified of an error.
  • H.R. 4576 – Health Savings for Families Act, introduced by NDC Health Care Task Force Member Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), would amend the tax code to allow individuals to contribute to health savings accounts (HSA) if their spouse has a health flexible spending account (FSA), as long as that health FSA does not also reimburse the expenses of the spouse paying into the HSA.

“The American people deserve solutions that move past partisan posturing and make real progress to improve our health care system, lower costs of care, and achieve affordable, universal coverage,” said NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06).  “As the administration undermines our health care system and creates uncertainty for millions of Americans, including those with preexisting conditions, the NDC has been tireless in our efforts to develop and pass health care policies that work for the American people. 

“Oregon’s seniors are struggling to access the care that they need and to afford the soaring costs of their medications,” said NDC Health Care Co-Chair Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-05). “Improvements to healthcare must be comprehensive and many of these bills will ensure that all Oregonians receive the care they need. I am proud to stand with my New Dem health care task force colleagues and endorse these commonsense bills, including my Medicare Enrollment Protection Act. This bill will help to ensure that seniors do not face undue penalties when enrolling in Medicare Part B. I have introduced it in every Congress and will continue to champion this legislation on behalf of America’s seniors.”

“I was proud to introduce the Improving Provider Directories Act and am happy that it has been endorsed by the New Dem Coalition. As a doctor, I know firsthand how difficult it can be for families to find a provider in our complicated system. Outdated and incorrect information should not be a barrier to care,” said NDC Health Care Co-Chair Kim Schrier (WA-08). “That’s why we need to take action on surprise billing. We must bring some certainty to the process and allow patients to make informed decisions about their care.”

“The number one issue Minnesotans across the district talk to me about is the immediate need to lower health insurance premiums and out of pocket costs of hard-working families,” said NDC Health Care Co-Chair Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02). “These bills continue the commonsense approach to improving our health care system.”

“Arizonans deserve a health care system that works for everyone. That means better coverage and access to more affordable insurance plans. We're taking steps to find bipartisan, commonsense solutions to improve weaknesses in our health care system by lowering costs, expanding options, and offering more support to both patients and physicians,” said NDC Health Care Co-Chair Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ-09).

This slate of seven bills builds on our previous endorsements of H.R. 1425, The State Healthcare Premium Reduction Act and H.R. 584, The Incentivizing Medicaid Expansion Act and the NDC’s Solutions Over Politics: Stabilizing & Improving the Individual Market plan, released last Congress, which offered proposals to create a permanent reinsurance program, reduce healthcare costs for low-income Americans, promote greater insurance coverage, create a greater number of affordable insurance options, and improve the marketplaces.

At the start of the 116th Congress, one of NDC’s first actions was to urge House Leadership and the Committees of jurisdiction to take action to stabilize the ACA, expand coverage, and lower costs. NDC Members then joined colleagues in supporting and passing H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019 and H.R.987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. And in a recent letter to the President, NDC Members urged the administration to set aside partisan attacks on American’s health care, and to join NDC in bipartisan efforts to improve the existing health care system to expand affordable access to care. The NDC will continue to work to stabilize and strengthen the nation’s existing health care system, improve affordability, and expand coverage for more Americans.