June 29, 2020

Luján Votes for Legislation to Expand and Improve Health Care

Washington, D.C. – U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) issued the following statement after voting to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act.

“Millions of Americans struggle to pay for health care, and the Trump administration has only made it harder to afford. Now, as America faces an unprecedented health care crisis, President Trump is asking the Supreme Court to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. 

“Fighting for quality, affordable health care has been a top priority for me since coming to Congress. It’s why I’m standing up to President Trump’s attempt to rip health care away from hardworking families. I’m proud to vote for critical legislation to expand health care coverage, strengthen protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and make health care and prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act includes several provisions introduced by Congressman Luján. The congressman secured a provision to make permanent the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for primary care reimbursement to ensure Medicaid recipients can access care from a greater number of providers. The legislation passed today includes a permanent reauthorization of the CHIP Outreach and Enrollment grants Luján has championed, which will provide coverage for more children in New Mexico. It also includes his Urban Indian Health Parity Act, which extends the same 100% federal funding Indian Health Service (IHS) providers receive through Medicaid to Urban Indian Health Programs, protecting Native patients’ access to care no matter where they live.

BACKGROUND:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act significantly increases the ACA’s affordability subsidies to be more generous and cover more middle-class families.  For the first time, no person will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for a benchmark silver plan in the ACA marketplaces, and many Americans will see their premiums cut in half or more: 

•                A family of four earning $40,000 would save nearly $1,600 in premiums each year.

•                A 64-year-old earning $57,420 would save more than $8,700 in premiums each year.

•                A single adult with income of $31,900 would see premiums cut in half.

•                An adult earning $19,140 would see premiums cut to zero, saving $800 dollars a year.

The bill allows Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, delivering the power to negotiate lower drug prices so that Americans no longer have to pay more for our medicines than Big Pharma charges for the same drugs overseas.  According to a new report from Patients for Affordable Drugs, from January to June, 245 drugs were subject to an average price increase of more than 20 percent.  Of these drugs with price hikes by Big Pharma, more than 75 percent directly relate to the COVID-19 crisis, including 30 drugs that are currently in clinical trials for their effect against the virus.

The bill expands coverage, pressing Medicaid expansion hold-out states with new carrots and sticks to adopt coverage for the 4.8 million Americans excluded from coverage, while restoring the outreach and advertising funding that the Trump administration has slashed to prevent Americans from learning about the affordable health coverage available to them under the ACA.

The bill combats inequity in health coverage faced by communities of color, expanding more affordable coverage to vulnerable populations and fighting the maternal mortality epidemic by requiring states to extend Medicaid or CHIP coverage to new mothers for a full year post-partum.

The bill cracks down on junk plans & strengthens protections for people with pre-existing conditions, reversing the Trump Administration’s expansion of junk health insurance plans that do not provide coverage for essential medical treatments and drugs and that are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

A fact sheet on the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act is available here

Press Contact

Monica Garcia (202) 225-6190