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Reps. Barragán, Chu, Kelly, and Schakowsky Lead Letter to Leadership Advocating for Provisions To Expand Health Coverage and Lower Costs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     

19 July 2022

Contact: Kevin McGuire, 202-538-2386 (mobile)

Washington D.C. – Today, Congresswomen Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) led 50 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging them to lower the cost of health care and include life-saving health care provisions from the House-passed Build Back Better Act (BBB) in any upcoming reconciliation package.

“Today, the uninsured rate in the United States is the lowest it has ever been. But if we fail to take action, millions of children and families in America could lose their health coverage or see their health costs rise astronomically in the next twelve months,” the members wrote.

The members continued, “Specifically, in this urgent moment, we must take steps to lower out-of-pocket health care costs and improve eligibility and access to health coverage for the very people who need it most […] These provisions have broad support across our diverse Democratic Caucus because of our shared conviction that every family in America deserves access to high-quality, affordable health care. As talks around budget reconciliation intensify, we must seize the opportunity to lower health care costs, advance equity, and head off an impending health care affordability crisis.”

The lawmakers outlined a series of recommended House-passed BBB provisions for Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi to incorporate in any upcoming reconciliation package, including:

  1. Extend enhanced Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTCs) to prevent premiums from skyrocketing.
  2. Close the Medicaid Gap for the 2 million people who are denied health care because of what state they live in.
  3. Protect maternal and child health by making CHIP permanent and providing Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries with the stability of 12 months continuous health care coverage, including for one full year postpartum.
  4. Prevent millions of people who rely on Medicaid from erroneously losing coverage at the end of the Public Health Emergency by placing guardrails on the Medicaid redeterminations process.
  5. Invest in Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) to expand access to quality, affordable long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities.

“The American people are counting on Democrats to expand access to health coverage and lower out-of-pocket costs for healthcare.” said Congresswoman Barragán. “No one should have to choose between getting the healthcare they need to be healthy and making rent or putting food on their table. That is why the inclusion of these priorities in any upcoming Senate reconciliation package is so important. It will dramatically improve health outcomes for low-income and communities of color as we continue to navigate the ongoing public health emergency and beyond. While Republicans are threatening women’s access to health care, Democrats must act to protect maternal and child health and stop millions of people who rely on Medicaid and CHIP from losing coverage. We have a unique opportunity to improve access to affordable healthcare for the people who need it most and we must act.”

“Every American family deserves affordable and quality health care. From pediatric care to routine checkups to pharmaceutical care and everything in between, it is imperative we are doing everything we can in Congress to ensure our families can afford the care they need,” said Rep. Judy Chu. “As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we must strengthen our health care system and provide for every American — and a surefire way to bolster these efforts is by extending critical care provisions passed by the House in the upcoming reconciliation package.”

“Our economy is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs around the globe are impacting folks here at home. No one should have to choose between paying their bills and visiting their doctor or paying for their child’s medication,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “Unfortunately, APTCs are soon set to expire and there are as many as 2.2 million Americans living in the Medicaid coverage gap. Additionally, in the wake of the Dobbs decision, many women are going to lose access to vital abortion care and will not have access to adequate Medicaid postpartum care. People of color, rural Americans and low-income workers are going to feel the brunt of this. We must take this opportunity to provide affordable healthcare access to everyone.”

“America is the richest country in the world. Every American family, regardless of where they live or what job they have, deserves access to affordable, quality health care,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “During the pandemic, Congress lowered monthly premiums for millions of Americans through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. In Illinois, the average premium decreased by nearly $70 per month. We must ensure that any reconciliation package includes provisions to extend these vital health care provisions, as well as strong investments in long-term care for seniors and protecting maternal and child health. Millions of Americans are relying on us to ensure they have access to affordable health care. We must deliver.”

“Families USA appreciates the leadership from Representatives Barragán, Kelly, Schakowsky, Chu and many others to uplift the critical importance of advancing policies that lower the cost of health care and strengthen access to affordable health coverage,” said Eliot Fishman, Senior Director of Health Policy. “Now more than ever, it is crucial that Congress act to ensure families can get and stay connected to the health care they need and deserve. Extending enhanced Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTCs), closing the Medicaid coverage gap, making CHIP permanent, providing Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries with 12 months continuous health care coverage postpartum and ensuring that individuals who are currently enrolled in Medicaid do not erroneously lose coverage at the end of the public health emergency will help improve access to health care and address racial and social inequities. This Congress has a once in a generation opportunity to move us to universal health coverage. We urge that the Senate include these priorities in a reconciliation package and look forward to continuing to ensure that no family’s health depends on their wealth.”

“We applaud Rep. Barragan and her colleagues for supporting the inclusion of critically important maternal child health policies in the reconciliation bill,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “Making CHIP permanent and providing 12-month continuous coverage for children and during the postpartum period are desperately needed health policies to help stabilize and protect the health of millions of children. It’s time to get these policies passed for kids and families! Kids can’t wait!”

The letter is supported by Families USA, First Focus Campaign for Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Texas Kids Can’t Wait, Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP), Young Invincibles, United States of Care, Community Catalyst, Third Way, GO2LungCancer, UnidosUS, National Partnership for Women and Families, Prevent Blindness, National Birth Equity Collaborative, The AIDS Institute, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, National Health Council, National Immigration Law Center, The American College of Physicians, Susan G. Komen, and National Hemophilia Foundation.

Full text of the letter can be found here.