Shaheen Introduces Health Care Affordability Package to Lower Patient Costs & Improve Access to Care, Amid Renewed Republican Efforts to Repeal Health Coverage For MillionsApril 01, 2019
**Shaheen’s Health Care Package Comes Amid Republican Efforts to Fully Repeal the ACA, Putting the Health Care of Millions of Americans & as many as 118,000 Granite Staters at Risk**
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced a health care affordability package, which includes three pieces of legislation that would reduce health care costs for patients and expand access to critical medical services. Together, the Marketplace Certainty Act, Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act and Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act would make essential reforms to the health care law that would help stabilize the marketplace, lower premiums for middle-class families and combat escalating out-of-pocket health care costs.
“Instead of continuously trying to repeal our health care law – which would strip coverage for millions of Americans and as many as 118,000 Granite Staters— Senate Republican Leadership needs to prioritize measures that reform the law to lower patient costs and improve access to care. Every American should be entitled to affordable, quality health care and my affordability package is an important step forward to help meet that goal,” said Senator Shaheen. “Combined, these efforts would lower premiums, reduce deductibles, drive down out-of-pocket costs and improve our health care system long term with a sustainable common-sense approach that I hope both Democrats and Republicans will be able to support.”
Senator Shaheen’s health care affordability package will comprehensively address a number of concerns with the health care law to help deliver more accessible, affordable care to Granite Staters and Americans across the country.
The Marketplace Certainty Act would reduce deductibles and co-pays for low-income and middle-income patients by expanding the cost-sharing reduction assistance that insurers are required to provide to individuals enrolled in marketplace coverage. In 2019, the existing cost-sharing reduction requirements helped reduce deductibles by thousands of dollars per year for millions of individuals and families. Senator Shaheen’s bill would expand eligibility for this cost-sharing reduction assistance to more patients and would increase the generosity of the deductible and co-pay relief provided by the cost-sharing reduction assistance. This bill would also permanently appropriate funding to restore the payments to insurers to reimburse them for the cost of providing the cost-sharing reduction assistance. These reimbursement payments were suspended by the Trump administration in October 2017. The suspension of the payments – part of the Trump administration’s continuing efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – has resulted in significant increases in premiums for individuals enrolled in health care plans under the ACA.
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-income families. In addition to making health care more affordable, a recent analysis suggests that these changes could grow enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplaces by millions of consumers and reduce premiums for those currently enrolled in the coming years.
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 for services provided by out-of-network medical providers, while also applying caps to hospital and physician charges for uninsured patients. A recent study projects that in 2019, 72 percent of enrollees on the Health Insurance Marketplaces are enrolled in plans with restrictive networks that often have limited or no coverage for services furnished by out-of-network medical providers. Out-of-network charge caps that are similar to those proposed in Senator Shaheen’s legislation are already in place in the Medicare Advantage program. These charge caps have proven effective in reducing Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs, and can help reduce health plans’ costs for in-network provider services—which in turn can help reduce premiums.
Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to stabilize the health insurance markets and make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans. She introduced the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019 with Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to counteract Trump administration sabotage efforts that have slashed health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent since the President took office. She also introduced the Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to prevent the Trump administration from using federal premium tax credits to promote and incentivize enrollment in “junk plans” that do not provide coverage of pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits.
Senator Shaheen is also leading efforts in the Senate to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. She introduced the Biologic Transparency Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation to encourage competition in the prescription drug marketplace and put an end to the harmful patent strategies that block new drugs from coming to market. She also introduced the End Taxpayer Subsidies for Drugs Ads Act of 2019 to eliminate tax deductions that pharmaceutical companies use to pay for drug advertising, which ultimately allows companies to increase their drug prices. Shaheen’s bill would ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize drug advertisements.
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