Democratic Health Leaders Introduce Bill to Increase Affordability & Undo the Administration’s Sabotage of the ACA
Today, the three Democratic leaders of the Committees with jurisdiction over health care introduced a comprehensive bill that would improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces by making health care more affordable and by reversing the harmful Trump Administration actions that have sabotaged the ACA. The legislation was introduced by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), and Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA).
The legislation would lower health care premiums for consumers by eliminating the cap on eligibility for premium tax credits, which are currently set at 400 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), and will increase the size of the tax credit for all income brackets. The bill would also provide additional support for out-of-pocket costs by expanding eligibility for cost-sharing subsidies from 250 percent of the FPL to 400 percent, and would make cost-sharing subsidies more generous for those below 250 percent of the FPL. In October, President Trump decided to default on cost-sharing subsidies that help more than seven million hardworking Americans afford their out-of-pocket health care costs.
“For the last year, the American people have consistently voiced their support for efforts to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and protect comprehensive coverage Pallone, Neal and Scott said. “It’s long past time for Congress to listen to the American people. We must pass this comprehensive legislation that reduces costs, improves access to care and reverses some of the most egregious efforts by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans to sabotage our nation’s health care system.”
The bill also reverses harmful actions by the Trump Administration that undermine consumer protections in the health care system. Specifically, the bill would:
- Prevent the expansion of Association Health Plans from going into effect. These bare-bones plans are not required to include protections for people with pre-existing conditions or the essential health benefits package.
- Prevent the Trump Administration from moving forward on a rule proposed last month that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by offering junk plans that provide limited benefits and little financial protection from health care costs. The legislation would require short-term limited duration health plans to play by the same rules as ACA-compliant plans.
- Prevent the Trump Administration from weakening protections for Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), which would leave consumers with less comprehensive plans that may not cover needed services, such as prescription drugs, maternity care, and substance use disorder treatment.
The legislation would also restore marketing and outreach funds that were cut by 90 percent during the 2018 ACA open enrollment period. Specifically, the bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct marketing and outreach, and provides $100 million per year from 2019 through 2021. It also provides $100 million in Consumer Assistance Program grants for states, which provides funding for states to conduct educational activities regarding health insurance, and creates a state innovation fund to empower states to implement new approaches to increasing enrollment. Lastly, this legislation creates a national reinsurance program to help stabilize the market and alleviate potential premium increases resulting from sabotage of the ACA.
A summary is available here.
A section-by-section of the bill is available here.
The text of the bill is available here.