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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

New Democrat Coalition Health Care Task Force Introduces Two Bills to Cut Health Care Costs and Expand Coverage to Millions

Apr 26, 2018
Press Release
Bills Would Expand Affordable Health Care Coverage and Empower States to Boost & Simplify Enrollment

Washington, D.C. – Today, New Democrat Coalition Affordable and Accessible Healthcare Task Force Co-Chair Ami Bera (CA-07), along with fellow Co-Chairs Kurt Schrader (OR-05), and Annie Kuster (NH-02), introduced two bills to expand access to affordable health care, simplify enrollment, and empower States to innovate. The two bills, the Pathway to Universal Coverage Act and the Easy Enrollment Act, build on the Coalition’s continued progress to improve access to affordable health care for all Americans.

Last year, the New Democrat Coalition Healthcare Task Force Co-Chairs Ami Bera, Kurt Schrader, and Annie Kuster led other Members in the House of Representatives in releasing a set of proposals targeted at stabilizing the individual health insurance market and bringing down the cost of healthcare for all Americans. To further improve health care we must work towards universal coverage and increase flexibility and the choices offered to consumers to further reduce skyrocketing health care costs.

“As a doctor, I know that health care is extremely personal,” said Congressman Bera. “Too many hardworking families have been left out or left behind by premiums and deductibles they can’t afford. Americans deserve a plan that protects their current health care coverage, expands enrollment, and reduces costs for everyone. The Pathway to Universal Coverage Act and the Easy Enrollment Act are two steps we can take right now to give affordable coverage to millions.”

“We’ve been working for over a year now on solutions to bring down health costs and expand access to good, affordable care for every American,” said Congressman Schrader. “Affordable health care should be available for all, not a privilege for a few. Last year, we rolled out a  plan to stabilize the individual marketplace. We recognized then that expanding access and ease of enrollment should be one of the core elements of any market stabilization plan. Without enough healthy Americans enrolled in plans, we will continue to face instability. These bills being introduced today will make it easier for folks to enroll in plans, stabilizing the marketplace while moving us further down the path toward universal coverage.”

“Every American deserves access to quality affordable healthcare,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The Affordable Care Act was an important step toward realizing that goal but it’s time Republicans and Democrats came together to make improvements to the law so that no one is left behind. Our proposals will help contain costs and expand access to healthcare to millions of Americans.”

The Pathway to Universal Coverage Act, Co-Sponsored by New Democrat Coalition Reps. Annie Kuster, Kurt Schrader, Kathleen Rice, Brad Schneider, John Delaney, and Scott Peters, would provide grants for States to pilot opt-out insurance coverage for individuals eligible for premium assistance or Medicaid. The bill gives States the tools they need to expand coverage, including access to data, streamlined enrollment and new reporting to identify the uninsured. It also contains strong consumer protections, only allowing opt-out enrollment for people with no upfront costs and holds those auto-enrolled harmless from recoupment if their incomes change. Individuals would be given 60 days to opt-out of receiving coverage – ensuring complete consumer choice in their health care decisions. More than half of uninsured people eligible for financial help could have qualified for a health plan that required no premium in 2018. Using an opt-out model, like what has been successful for retirement plans, could have expanded coverage to at least 4 million Americans.

The Easy Enrollment Act, Co-Sponsored by New Democrat Coalition Reps. Annie Kuster, Brad Schneider, John Delaney, and Scott Peters, would help maximize health insurance coverage by aligning tax season with health care open enrollment. Evidence suggests that the current timing of enrollment, during the holiday season, is when people are most over-burdened and financially strained. This could be limiting the number of healthy people signing up for coverage. Shifting the enrollment period to tax season when people have up-to-date financial information means families can make more informed decisions when they aren’t under stress trying to make ends meet. This also simplifies individuals’ interactions with government – once a year you would pay taxes and sign up for health care coverage.

Right now, more than 25 million Americans remain uninsured and the Trump administration’s actions have triggered double-digit premium increases.