Rush Highlights Expanded Healthcare Subsidies in American Rescue Plan, Asks for Demographic Breakdowns on Enrollment in "Junk Plans"
WASHINGTON — Today at a House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing titled “Building on the ACA: Legislation to Expand Health Coverage and Lower Costs,” U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) emphasized the need for increased outreach to minority communities to spread the word about enrolling in healthcare coverage and taking advantage of increased healthcare subsidies included in the American Rescue Plan.
“A Gallup survey conducted last year found that nonwhite adults were more than two times as likely to defer seeking treatment for COVID-19-like symptoms due to cost than white adults,” said Rush. “Access to affordable health insurance will reduce this disparity.”
Rush also asked about the existence of demographic breakdowns based on race for enrollment in the short-term, limited-duration “junk plans” promoted by the Trump administration.
A full transcript of Rush’s Q&A with Katie Keith, Associate Research Professor at Georgetown University, is below:
RUSH: In [the] case of the 11th anniversary. I was proud… to vote for the ACA in 2010, which has since become a lifeline for millions of Americans. I was also pleased last month to vote for the American Rescue Plan, which delivered on Democrats’ promise to strengthen the ACA and make health care more affordable for all Americans.
The improvements included in the American Rescue Plan — and in the legislation that we are considering today — are long overdue and cannot come soon enough. In 2020, it was estimated that 846,000 Illinoisans lost employer-sponsored insurance. During a global pandemic, it is critical that we ensure everyone has access to high-quality, affordable health care.
COVID-19 has revealed a bright light on health disparities, which are too common for Black and Brown Americans in my district and around this nation. It is our duty to ensure we conduct outreach to African Americans and Latinos, those who are more likely to have negative health outcomes from COVID-19.
A Gallup survey conducted last year found that nonwhite adults were more than two times as likely to defer seeking treatment for COVID-19-like symptoms due to cost than white adults. Access to affordable health insurance will reduce this disparity. Fortunately, the American Rescue Plan temporarily extends the marketplace premium tax credit to more individuals for 2021 and 2022.
That said, Ms. Keith, are these increased subsidies available now for 2021? For those already enrolled in a plan for 2021 through Healthcare.gov, what actions — if any — are needed for consumers to receive the subsidies for which they now qualify?
KEITH: Thank you so much Congressman, and thank you for your leadership on all of these issues. So the subsidies that you’re talking about will be available through Healthcare.gov beginning on April 1st, and federal officials are encouraging everyone who already has coverage or needs coverage to go back into the system and make sure that you say, “Yes, I want to take advantage of these credits.” It’s also the moment though, to see if you want to change plans and maybe lower your deductible or lower your out-of-pocket costs. It’s really a moment to shop around, get the best deal for you, and take care of your health care.
And I haven’t said this yet so I will emphasize, anyone who is uninsured or needs health care or health coverage can enroll in Healthcare.gov through May 15th. Really, really important to get the word out. Thank you.
RUSH: Yes. Alright. Ensuring affordability of high-quality health care, as I said before, is a top priority, and I have been an outspoken opponent of short-term, limited-duration insurance. These junk plans are often sold to patients by unscrupulous sales representatives who do not disclose the gaps in coverage which can leave patients on the hook for literally thousands of dollars. Ms. Keith, are there any demographic breakdowns based on race for short-term, limited-duration plan enrollment?
KEITH: None that I’m aware of, no sir. The best data that we have really comes from the committees’ yearlong investigation of the practices for these products.
RUSH: My time is running out and I yield back the rest of my time.
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