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Kuster, Energy and Commerce Colleagues Hold Virtual Hearing on the Affordable Care Act's Impact on Health Care Coverage During the COVID-19 Pandemic

**Watch Rep. Kuster’s line of questioning here**

A high resolution version of this photo is available here.

Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) participated in a virtual Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on the Affordable Care Act’s impact on health care coverage during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. During the hearing entitled, “Health Care Lifeline: The Affordable Care Act and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” the Subcommittee heard from Aviva Aron-Dine, Ph.D., Vice President for Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Dean Cameron, Director at the Idaho Department of Insurance; Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President at the American Action Forum; Peter Lee, Executive Director at Covered California; Benjamin D. Sommers, M.D., Ph.D., Huntley Quelch Professor of Health Care Economics, Professor of Health Policy & Economics, Professor of Medicine at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health / Brigham & Women's Hospital.

“Across this country, 135 million people under age 65 have a pre-existing condition,” said Kuster. “In New Hampshire, over 500,000 Granite Staters – more than half of our non-elderly population – live with pre-existing conditions and could be denied coverage or charged prohibitively expensive costs for care if the ACA were repealed. As our national COVID-19 case count approaches 7 million, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is also a pre-existing condition. I introduced the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act – which has passed the House twice, and still sits on Mitch McConnell’s desk. Despite what this Administration has claimed, let me be clear: in the nearly four years they have been in power, they have done nothing to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. And this Administration has no comprehensive plan for how to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage.”

“Whether it’s efforts to ‘repeal and replace’ without a replacement plan, issuing destructive guidance through junk health plan waivers, or fighting in the courts to dismantle the entire health care law — this is dangerous and destructive to the lives of the American people,” Kuster continued. “And they certainly have not supported the ACA in the midst of this global pandemic that has needlessly taken the lives of over 200,000 Americans. The stark reality is that every year of the Trump Administration, the rate of Americans without health insurance has increased. And this year has proven no different. The Administration’s efforts to sabotage the ACA are nothing new, but it’s all the more cruel while we face the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Rep. Kuster has been working to hold the Trump Administration accountable for their efforts to sabotage Americans’ health care. Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act passed the House in July as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act.

In today’s hearing, Kuster questioned experts on the effects of the Trump Administration’s inexcusable refusal to establish a special enrollment period for health exchange plans during COVID-19. Over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and millions of Americans and their families have tragically lost their employer-based health coverage. A federally-established Special Enrollment Period would have allowed uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage on the federal Marketplace. This is especially critical in states like New Hampshire that depend on the federal government as a partner in the ACA marketplace

During Rep. Kuster’s questioning, experts confirmed the disastrous effect of the Administration’s decision to deny a special enrollment period: Federal marketplaces had lower enrollment than state-based marketplaces that created their own special COVID-19 enrollment period. If the Federal marketplaces had been able to create a special enrollment period, 500,000 Americans would not be uninsured today during the ongoing pandemic.

Watch Rep. Kuster’s line of questioning here. The full hearing can be viewed here