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

February 7, 2020 by Dan McCue
Rep. Suzan DelBene, of Washington State. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The New Democrat Coalition has endorsed a slate of seven bills aimed at improving health care coverage and reducing costs for millions of Americans.

“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 coalition chair Derek Kilmer, of Washington State. 

“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,” he added.

The bills, which were vetted and put forward by the coalition’s Health Care Task Force, are:

  • H.R. 3107 – Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, introduced by NDC vice chair Rep. Suzan DelBene, of Washington State, 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 Rep. Ami Bera, of California, 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, also introduced by Rep. Bera, 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, of Alabama, would help communities facing a shortage of physicians by adding 15,000 new Graduate Medical Education 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;
  •  H.R. 2564 – Medicare Enrollment Protection Act, introduced by NDC Health Care Task Force co-chair Rep. Kurt Schrader, of Oregon, 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, of Washington, 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, of Virginia, would amend the tax code to allow individuals to contribute to health savings accounts if their spouse has a health flexible spending account, as long as that health FSA does not also reimburse the expenses of the spouse paying into the HSA.

“Improvements to health care must be comprehensive and many of these bills will ensure that all Oregonians receive the care they need,” Rep. Schrader said. “This bill will help to ensure that seniors do not face undue penalties when enrolling in Medicare Part B.”

Rep. Schrier said as a doctor she knows firsthand how difficult it can be for families to find a provider in the current complicated system.

“Outdated and incorrect information should not be a barrier to care,” she said. “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.”

Rep. Craig said that the immediate need to lower health insurance premiums and the out-of- pocket costs of hard-working families is the number one issue Minnesotans across her district talk to her about.

“These bills continue the commonsense approach to improving our health care system,” Craig said.

NDC Health Care co-chair Rep. Greg Stanton, of Arizona, said the coalition and its members are “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.”

The slate of seven bills builds on the coalition’s previous endorsements of H.R. 1425, The State Healthcare Premium Reduction Act and H.R. 584, The Incentivizing Medicaid Expansion Act.

It also furthers the coalition’s proposals first made in its  Solutions Over Politics: Stabilizing & Improving the Individual Market plan.

The plan 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.

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