Reducing the cost of health care in NHMay 28, 2019
I’ve had countless conversations with Granite Staters who still struggle with the high cost of health care. Whether it’s the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, high monthly health insurance premiums or deductibles that are out of reach, people across New Hampshire are paying too much out of their own pockets to get the care they need.
The Affordable Care Act helped expand health insurance coverage to tens of thousands of Granite Staters who could otherwise be one bad accident, hospitalization or medical diagnosis away from unlimited exposure to medical bills and even medical bankruptcy. The ACA also ushered in a new era where patients can no longer be denied coverage or charged higher premiums because of a pre-existing condition; women can no longer be charged more than men for the same coverage; and insurers can no longer put arbitrary limits on the dollar value of medical services that patients can receive. While much progress has been made to expand insurance coverage through health care reform, more work needs to be done to reduce costs for patients.
That’s why I recently introduced a health care affordability package to reduce the cost of health care and expand access to critical medical services. This package of legislation includes three bills that would lower Granite Staters’ monthly premiums, reduce deductibles and drive down out-of-pocket costs.
The Marketplace Certainty Act would reduce deductibles and co-pays for vulnerable patients and working families by expanding the cost-sharing reduction assistance that insurers are required to provide to individuals enrolled in marketplace coverage.
The Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act increases the value of tax credits for families who are currently eligible for federal assistance, which helps offset the costs of monthly premiums, and expands eligibility for premium tax credits to include more middle class families.
The Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act would establish caps on how much hospitals and physicians could charge enrollees in the individual market when these patients receive care from out-of-network medical providers, while also applying caps to hospital and physician charges for uninsured patients.
Together, my health care affordability package represents a common-sense step forward. I’ve called for Republicans to come to the table with Democrats to find ways to reduce costs and expand coverage, and I will continue my work to build bipartisan consensus for this legislation.
Unfortunately, as we look for ways to improve access to quality, affordable care in Congress, President Trump has renewed efforts to strip health care from millions of Americans and as many as 118,000 Granite Staters. The Trump administration recently announced that it would side with partisans who want to dismantle the progress made under the Affordable Care Act — including protections for people with pre-existing conditions — by backing a lawsuit that would strike down the health care law in its entirety.
This is unacceptable. Eliminating the Affordable Care Act would have real consequences for people in New Hampshire. The expansion of Medicaid under the ACA has provided health insurance to more than 50,000 people in our state and helped Granite Staters with substance-use disorders receive the treatment they need. If the Trump administration succeeds in striking down the law, we would lose one of our most effective tools in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Further, eliminating the health care law would limit the ability of entrepreneurs to pursue the opportunities that help strengthen our economy. For example, I recently heard from a constituent in Keene who left his job to launch a small business creating study materials for actuarial exams. His company is profitable and he expects to hire more employees within a year or two. He said, “None of this would have been possible without the ACA. If the ACA is repealed, I’m concerned that I’d need to put my business on hold in order to go back to a corporate job that I don’t need only to get the health care benefits.”
Congress can’t sit on the sidelines while the president tries to take away Americans’ health care. That’s why I led a resolution supported by every Senate Democrat that directs the Trump administration to reverse course and defend our health care law.
Moving forward, Congress needs to help protect Americans’ access to health care and end the Trump administration’s misguided attempt to repeal the law in federal court. I will continue to work to build support from both sides of the aisle for my health care affordability package so that we can reduce cost burdens for Granite Staters and patients across the country.
Ensuring the health and safety of the American people should transcend politics, and Republicans and Democrats should work together to ensure quality, affordable health care for every American.
By: Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Source: Keene Sentinel
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