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Courtney Votes to Protect Health Coverage for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

June 2, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, voted to pass the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act, a bill that would build and improve upon the Affordable Care Act. H.R. 1425 includes provisions to expand access to quality and affordable health care, strengthen protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, crack down on junk health insurance plans, and more. 

The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act also includes the transformational drug price negotiation mechanism introduced in the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), which Rep. Courtney co-sponsored and voted to pass on December 12, 2019. This provision would give Americans a better, fairer deal on prescription drug costs by finally allowing for Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower-market rate prices. These new prices would be available to Medicare recipients, as well as to Americans on private health insurance plans. 

“The midst of a global pandemic is no time to strip away health care protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, but that’s exactly what’s at stake,” said Rep. Courtney. “Just last week, the Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down the entire ACA. If their effort succeeds, the 2.5 million Americans who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 so far, and 130 million others with pre-existing conditions, will lose the landmark, pro-patient protection that has been on the books for the last ten years: namely, the right to health coverage even if you’ve been sick before, and the confidence to know that you won’t be charged more because of an illness in your past.
“H.R. 1425 would protect coverage for folks with pre-existing conditions, and it would bring drug costs down to lower, market-rate prices for Americans on Medicare and on private insurance plans. At this time of severe economic uncertainty, when a deadly virus is ravaging communities both rural and urban, we must do everything in our power to strengthen health insurance and make it more affordable. That’s exactly what this bill does, and I was proud to help pass it today.”

Specifically, the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act

  • Lowers Americans’ health coverage costs by expanding tax credits to lower Marketplace health insurance premiums and allow more middle-class individuals and families to qualify for subsidies – for the first time, no person will pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on a silver plan in the Marketplaces

The bill also Ensures that families who don’t have an offer of affordable family coverage from an employer can qualify for subsidies in the Marketplaces, and provides funding for reinsurance initiatives to further lower premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs.

  • Negotiates lower prescription drug prices, and includes the transformational drug price negotiation mechanism from the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, (H.R. 3), which delivers immense savings to taxpayers, employers, workers and patients by preventing Americans from having to pay so much more for our medicines than other countries for the same drugs, manufactured by the same pharmaceutical companies. 
  • Provides funding for state reinsurance initiatives to further lower premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families buying insurance in the marketplace. 
  • Expands coverage & pushes hold-out states to adopt Medicaid expansion – The bill presses Medicaid expansion hold-out states to reconsider by renewing the ACA’s original expanded federal matching for states that adopt the Medicaid expansion and progressively reducing administrative FMAP for those who continue to refuse.  More than 4.8 million Americans have been cruelly excluded from coverage because states have refused to expand Medicaid.   

The bill also funds critical federal and state efforts to increase health coverage enrollment, educate consumers of their health care rights, and help individuals navigate the health insurance system, and delivers funding for states who want to establish their own state-based Marketplaces.

·       Fights the maternal mortality epidemic by requiring states to extend Medicaid or CHIP coverage to new mothers for 1-year post-partum.

·        Improves Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to primary care physicians by reauthorizing the ACA’s increased payments to primary care physicians who treat Medicaid recipients.

·        Cracks down on junk plans & strengthens protections for people with pre-existing conditions by reversing the Trump Administration’s expansion of junk health insurance plans that do not provide coverage for essential medical treatments and drugs, and that are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The bill also curtails the Trump Administration’s efforts to give states waivers to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions and weaken standards for essential health benefits.

For a fact sheet on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act, click here.

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