by Tricia Barrentine Guay
The ongoing public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact all corners of the country. Millions of Americans who have lost employment and health coverage and communities nationwide struggling to respond are depending on additional Congressional action. The House passed the HEROES Act in May: It’s time for the Senate to act.
Without Senate action, our health care system and our economy will continue to suffer as evidenced by daily records being set across southern and western states.
In a recent letter to Senate leadership, the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) urged quick Congressional action and reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring access to care, maintaining continuity of coverage and stabilizing the health insurance market during this critical time.
At the onset of the pandemic, ACHP proposed several novel approaches to help ensure access to affordable coverage, including:
- COBRA subsidies and expansion of the Health Coverage Tax Credit
- A Special Enrollment Period for the individual market
- Premium Grace Period protections
- A Medicaid Stabilization Fund
- and Reinsurance and Risk Corridors
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently estimated that the number of individuals losing employer-sponsored insurance coverage as a result of COVID-19 could reach nearly 27 million. Without Congressional action, these individuals may have no option except to enroll in Medicaid or become uninsured.
It is also important that Congress take steps to ensure that the United States does not lose the gains made in telehealth over the last few months, including granting permanent flexibilities for the duration of the public health emergency.
We will not cure COVID-19 and ease corresponding anxieties overnight. However, the time is now for swift bipartisan action to reduce the impact on Americans, health care and the economy.
Information on efforts of ACHP plans and their affiliated systems during this public health crisis is available here.