New Democrat Coalition Endorses Health Care Stabilization Bills

September 10, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The New Democrat Coalition on Tuesday endorsed a pair of bills intended to stabilize the Affordable Care Act while expanding health care coverage and driving down insurance costs for more Americans.

Both bills were put forward by the coalition’s Health Care Task Force. The first, H.R. 1425, The State Healthcare Premium Reduction Act, was introduced by Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and task force vice chair Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif.

It would provide $10 billion annually for states to apply for funding to establish a state reinsurance program or to provide financial assistance for individuals enrolled in qualified health plans by reducing their out-of-pocket costs.

The bill further requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to establish and implement a reinsurance program in states that do not apply for federal funding.

“When I talk to Minnesotans, what I hear over and over again is that we need to take action on skyrocketing healthcare costs,” Rep. Craig said.

“If health insurance isn’t affordable, it’s not accessible,” she said. “Establishing a federal reinsurance program is an immediate, common-sense solution that will help reduce insurance premiums in the individual marketplace and help make healthcare more affordable for Minnesota families.”

The second bill, H.R. 584, The Incentivizing Medicaid Expansion Act, was introduced by Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, and NDC Vice Chair Terri Sewell, D-Ala.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government covered the full cost of Medicaid expansion during the first three years of the ACA for states that chose to expand their Medicaid programs to cover individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Studies have shown Medicaid expansion states have achieved significant insurance coverage gains, improved access to and utilization of care, and several economic benefits.

Under current law, states that have not yet expanded Medicaid have missed the window to receive a full federal match for any amount of time. This bill would allow states that have not previously expanded Medicaid coverage under the ACA to be eligible for the same federal matches as those who acted within the window.

“Affordable and accessible health care should be a right, not a privilege, for all Texans and Americans across our country,” Representative Veasey said. “The legislation does just this by ensuring that Texas and other states across the country have the opportunity to receive the same share of federal funds that other earlier enrolling states had when they expanded Medicaid—if Texas chooses to expand, it would be a move that would guarantee health care coverage for over 600,000 Texans alone.”

The New Democrat Coalition has long been committed to building upon the Affordable Care Act and improving coverage and the affordability of health care under it.

Before the August work period, Health Care Task Force members, led by co-chairs Reps. Angie Craig, D-Minn., Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Kim Schrier, D-Wash., and Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., sent a letter to House Democratic Leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, and Assistant Leader Ben Ray Luján, urging the House to move bipartisan drug pricing bills forward.

Earlier this Congress, the House passed the New Democrat Coalition-supported H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act

This package included several individual New Dem-introduced and endorsed bills, including the bills referenced in yesterday’s letter that would lower prescription drug pricing, including H.R. 965, the CREATES Act, H.R. 938, the BLOCKING Act, and H.R. 1499, the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act. 

The New Dems also urged House leaders to prioritize strengthening the Affordable Care Act and continue the path toward affordable universal coverage. 

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