SUBSCRIBE NOW

Blunt Rochester votes to lower health care costs, enhance ACA

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, voted at the end of June to pass H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act follows through on Democrats’ commitment to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs for consumers. It expands health coverage and makes health care more affordable.

The package also includes Blunt Rochester’s H.R. 987, the MORE Health Education Act, which restores funding for outreach and education activities to inform people about their health coverage options on the federal exchange. The measure passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 234-179.

“In the middle of a global pandemic, the Trump administration is in court trying to take away the health care coverage of over 20 million Americans,” said Blunt Rochester. “Today, House Democrats upheld our promise to the American people to make health care more accessible and more affordable.”

“I’m also proud that my bill, the MORE Health Education Act was included in today’s package,” said Blunt Rochester. “With an estimated 27 million people becoming uninsured from job loss due to the pandemic, it’s critical to restore funding for outreach and education activities so consumers know when and how to get enrolled in health coverage. Using the money that we would save from lowering prescription drug costs, this bill would expand coverage and fight against the Trump administration’s continued attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act. We still have more work to do to make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans, but today’s vote was an important step.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act will lower Americans’ health coverage costs by expanding tax credits to lower Americans’ Marketplace health insurance premiums and allow more middle-class individuals and families to qualify for subsidies; for the first time, no person will pay more than 8.5% of their income on a silver plan in the Marketplaces. The act ensures that families who don’t have an offer of affordable family coverage from an employer can qualify for subsidies in the Marketplaces; and provides funding for reinsurance initiatives to further lower premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

The act also includes the transformational drug price negotiation mechanism from the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, H.R. 3, which delivers savings to taxpayers, employers, workers and patients by preventing Americans from having to pay so much more for medicines than pharmaceutical companies charge for the same drugs overseas.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act will also expand coverage and push holdout states to adopt Medicaid expansion. The act presses Medicaid expansion holdout states to reconsider by renewing the ACA’s original expanded federal matching for states that adopt the Medicaid expansion and progressively reducing administrative FMAP for those who continue to refuse. More than 4.8 million Americans have been excluded from coverage because states have refused to expand Medicaid.

Additionally, the act funds critical federal and state efforts to increase health coverage enrollment, educate consumers of their health care rights and help individuals navigate the health insurance system, and delivers funding for states who want to establish their own state-based Marketplaces.

To combat inequity in health coverage faced by communities of color, the act fights the maternal mortality epidemic by requiring states to extend Medicaid or CHIP coverage to new mothers for 1-year postpartum; protects vulnerable populations from losing health coverage by ensuring that Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries receive a full 12 months of coverage once enrolled, protecting them from interruptions due to fluctuations in their income throughout the year; and improves Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to primary care physicians, by reauthorizing the ACA’s increased payments to primary care physicians who treat Medicaid recipients.

To crack down on junk plans and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act reverses the Trump Administration’s expansion of junk health insurance plans that do not provide coverage for essential medical treatments and drugs, and that are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions. It also curtails the Trump administration’s efforts to give states waivers to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions and weaken standards for essential health benefits.