More work required to get us closer to affordable universal coverage

Families are forced to make difficult choices between paying rent or food or important medical procedures and treatment. This struggle has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Republican attacks on the ACA. The previous administration deliberately created instability in a single market by forcing over 1 million people to drop their insurance. Meanwhile, the current public health crisis has exposed major barriers to quality care in our system. Household financial straits and job losses have increased the number of people covered by the insurance gap and have separated others from employer-based insurance coverage, adding 31 million people to the existing population of 40 million uninsured Americans.

As Congress continues to focus on promoting President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better, we must build on the proven success of the ACA to move us closer to universal and affordable coverage for all Americans.

The Coalition of New Democrats represents a moderate voice in the House of Representatives. We are also the faction that provides the majority of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, many of our members are from purple districts. The NDC has long focused on listening to our constituents, regardless of party affiliation, and they are calling for immediate action to make healthcare more accessible.

As chairman of the NDC at the 117th Congress, my priority is to continue the coalition’s work to reduce costs and expand outreach. Our North Star relies on the ACA to deliver on that promise by continuing to increase individual market subsidies and expanding Medicaid in the remaining holding states.

The success of the American Rescue Plan is clear evidence of why this approach is one of the best ways to use our resources. The stimulus package included increased premium subsidies that lowered the cost of health insurance for 9 million Americans. An additional 1.7 million uninsured Americans will be insured in 2022 alone thanks to these increased subsidies. But, like many programs in the law, this support will only last a year. By making subsidies permanent, we can further narrow the coverage gap and ensure that prices of millions of households are not excluded from coverage again.

In addition to building on our success in a single market, we must also focus on the success of the Medicaid expansion, which reaches 12 million Americans. Twelve states continued to resist expansion, leaving 4 million low-income Americans uninsured. Fully expanding Medicaid in non-expanding states — something the NDC has long advocated — will also move us further towards our goal of universal coverage.

In addition to expanding affordable and affordable coverage, we must adapt our healthcare system to the needs of the 21st century. The coalition has advocated expanding telemedicine and home care in the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan so that patients can still access the care they need without putting themselves at risk during a pandemic. Investing in medical research so we have the right technology, therapies, and drugs for the future is also essential for the future of American health.

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