Broad Coalition of Health Industry Groups Calls for Obamacare Expansion
In an unusual sign of unity, groups representing nearly every major player in America’s healthcare system – hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and employers – are banding together to urge Congress to embrace President Biden’s sweeping vision of building on the Affordable Care Act The long elusive goal of universal coverage.
The coalition is made up of eight powerful industry groups including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. On Wednesday morning, it released a number of detailed proposals, including an increase in available federal grants to help people afford coverage and a three-year restoration of the generous adjustment of federal funds to states to allow more of them to expand their Medicaid move programs. The coalition also urged the government to spend more money enrolling people in plans offered by the statutory insurance markets. These efforts were curtailed by the previous government.
“While we sometimes disagree on major health care issues, we agree that Americans deserve a stable health care market that gives everyone access to quality care and affordable coverage,” the coalition said in a joint statement.
Some of the proposals, including increasing federal grants, are already being debated under a comprehensive Covid-19 relief bill and have long been on a list of proposals the groups made to Congress.
The decision to work together was fueled by the pandemic, the coalition said, and the need to address “long-standing inequalities in access to health care and inequalities in health outcomes”. Millions of Americans lost their insurance during the downturn, and the virus disproportionately affected many color communities, with many cases and deaths.
The recommendations signal strong support for the beleaguered health bill, which has been heavily attacked not only by Republicans under the Trump administration, but also by progressive Democrats who have pushed for it to be passed overall through a government-run “Medicare for all” – Replace system.
While the hospitals, doctors, and insurers that benefit from having more people insured had previously joined forces to tackle Republicans’ attempts to overturn Obamacare in 2017, the new coalition also includes the chamber that doesn’t Proponent of that was right.
“We have always believed that there are better ways to expand health insurance and reduce costs than the ACA, but it is the law of the country and as such we want it to work as smoothly and efficiently as possible,” Neil Bradley executive vice president and chief policy officer of the chamber said in an email statement.
With the election of Mr. Biden and the change in the composition of Congress, “we now have the opportunity to actually see something,” said Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents nonprofit hospitals and is with the American Hospital Association Member of the coalition. In addition to the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians is also a member of the coalition.
“This is a very specific set of proposals for the ACA framework to meet its aspirations,” said Kahn.
The coalition now estimates that 29 million people of working age are uninsured and says the proposed measures are a way to achieve near universal coverage.
“We have worked hard with all partners in the coalition to make recommendations that will get us where we need to find a way to truly expand coverage,” said Justine Handelman, senior vice president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association member the coalition.
Employer groups, including the American Benefits Council, are particularly encouraging temporary measures that would help people maintain professional coverage during the pandemic. The coalition is calling for higher subsidies under COBRA, the federal law that allows people to retain employer-provided health benefits after they leave work so that people can afford to keep these job-related plans or for the federal government to make direct loans to them can employers.
“It’s really just about the system in place and finding out the loopholes and problems,” said Jeanette Thornton, senior vice president of America’s Health Insurance Plans. All recommendations refer to “filling in these loopholes,” she said.