Bicameral Democratic Health Leaders Call for Additional Action to Ensure Cost is Not a Barrier for COVID-19 Treatment
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a joint statement today calling for additional congressional action to ensure that COVID-19 treatment and vaccines are free of charge for patients as well as new measures to reduce the cost of health insurance coverage:
“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provides critical assistance and resources to our health care workers and hospitals that are overwhelmed right now trying to save American lives. This legislation takes another major step to protect Americans during this crisis, but we are disappointed that it does not ensure that all patients have access to affordable coronavirus treatment.
“Congress already provided access to free coronavirus testing to Americans. While the Trump Administration has a lot more work to do to improve access to testing, there is no doubt that removing this financial barrier will assist our national effort to contain the spread of this terrible disease.
“Congress must now ensure that all COVID-19 treatment and future vaccines are free of charge for all patients. Congress should also act to proactively help the millions of Americans who could lose their health insurance coverage due to the economic downturn, by expanding access to quality, affordable health care coverage.
“With this in mind, we will fight to include measures in the next response package to:
- Eliminate out-of-pocket costs for all medical care related to COVID-19;
- Increase health care tax credits to lower health insurance premiums;
- Provide financial assistance to help workers who are laid off, furloughed, or experience reduced hours maintain their job-based coverage through COBRA;
- Increase the number of Americans eligible for health care tax credits;
- Open a special enrollment period nationally so people who need health coverage can sign up on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges; and
- Incentivize the remaining states to expand Medicaid by increasing the federal share of the cost.
“These critical measures will ensure the cost of treatment and coverage are not obstacles in our national response to this global pandemic or to American families in need. They are an essential next step to protecting the health, economic security and well-being of the American people.”