6 steps major new coalition will pursue to grow Obamacare, reach for universal healthcare

A new alliance of powerful associations representing providers, payers, hospitals and employers has formed to push U.S. healthcare toward universal coverage.

The member organizations plan to do so by building on the foundation laid by the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

The Affordable Coverage Coalition announced its intentions Feb. 10 in a statement of principles.

“Let’s work together on solutions that are broadly applicable across all types of health insurance—employer coverage, individual market and public programs—to deliver the access to care and health outcomes that the American people deserve,” the statement authors write.

The signatories are: America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Benefits Council, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Federation of American Hospitals and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The coalition lays out six measures it will take up to not only improve care access but also fight COVID and advance health equity:

1. Tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Increase the generosity of and expand eligibility for ACA premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions to help more people afford their premiums and cost-sharing responsibilities.

2. Insurance affordability fund. Establish a sustained federal funding mechanism to support any unexpected high costs for caring for those with serious health conditions or to otherwise lower premiums or cost-sharing for exchange enrollees.

3. Automatic and facilitated enrollment. Automatically enroll and renew individuals eligible for Medicaid and premium-free marketplace plans and facilitate enrollment for any remaining uninsured, maximizing their financial assistance and simplifying enrollment and maintenance of coverage.

4. Federal funding for outreach and enrollment programs. Urge Congress to appropriate adequate funding to restore resources to navigator, outreach and enrollment programs and encourage states to develop more efficient and less costly outreach and enrollment platforms with the goal of ensuring there is no wrong door to enroll in coverage.

5. Incentives to close the low-income coverage gap. Ensure everyone with an income up to 138% of the federal poverty level has comprehensive coverage. To provide incentives for states that have not yet expanded Medicaid to act, Congress should again fund a three-year, 100% federal match for Medicaid expansion.

6. Preventing increases in the uninsured.Policymakers should help prevent Americans who have lost, or are at risk of losing, employer-provided health coverage from becoming uninsured. For those at risk of losing coverage, Congress should temporarily cover the cost of continuing health coverage through the crisis, such as through COBRA subsidies or direct loans to employers …

In an announcement sent by the AMA, Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Kim Keck suggests extending health coverage to all would improve the health status of the American population as a whole.

“While the country has made enormous strides in expanding coverage over the past decade, we must close the remaining gaps,” Keck says, adding that universal coverage “means people can get the care they need, when they need it, so they can live healthier, more secure lives.”  

For the Affordable Coverage Coalition’s full statement of principles for universal coverage, click here.

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