Monday, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act which aims to make health care and prescription drugs more affordable. The legislation also expands access to health care, strengthens protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and reduces racial and ethnic health coverage disparities.
“For too long, too many Americans have struggled to get adequate, affordable health care,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Despite the fact that we are in the middle of a major pandemic and despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act has expanded coverage and secured critical protections for millions of Americans, the Trump Administration just pushed in court for a complete and total repeal of the law. Congress should fight back and work to improve the ACA. Today’s bill does just that – building on the ACA’s successes to lower health costs and prescription drug prices for middle-class families and cover millions more people. I’ll keep working to ensure all Americans can have quality, affordable health care.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act aims to make health care more affordable by lowering health insurance premiums with strengthened and expanded affordability assistance. Specifically, the legislation expands eligibility for premium tax credits beyond 400 percent of the federal poverty line and increases the size of tax credits for all income brackets. The legislation creates a national reinsurance program, which can lower premiums, and provides funds to states to help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for everyone.
The legislation also makes prescription drugs more affordable by empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and making those prices available to Americans with private health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that drugs subject to negotiation will see price reductions of as much as 55 percent.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act also:
- encourages states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs to do so by renewing the ACA’s original expanded federal match;
- reverses the Trump Administration’s efforts to give states waivers to undermine pre-existing condition protections and weaken standards for essential health benefits;
- stops the expansion of junk insurance plans that allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, put consumers at financial risk, and drive up comprehensive insurance costs;
- restores critical outreach and enrollment funding that has been gutted by the Trump Administration and provide funding for navigators to assist consumers in signing up for health care;
- combats the maternal mortality epidemic, which continues to particularly impact Black and Native American people, by extending Medicaid or Children‘s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage to new mothers from the current 60 days post-partum to one year;
- further reduces racial and ethnic health inequities by expanding coverage and premium assistance to more Black and Hispanic Americans; and
- protects vulnerable populations from losing health coverage by ensuring that Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries receive a full 12 months of coverage once enrolled, protecting them from interruptions due to fluctuations in their income throughout the year.