WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, joined his colleagues to release a Senate Democratic plan to expand health care coverage and affordability during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a white paper, the senators outline a series of common sense legislative priorities that the Senate should take up immediately, including legislation introduced by Senator Cardin earlier this month, which temporarily eliminates the repayment burden of excess advance premium tax credits for two years. The proposal also calls for all COVID-19 treatment costs to be covered, including for the uninsured, expands premium support through subsidies and tax credits, incentivizes Medicaid expansion in hold-out states, and establishes a special open enrollment period.
“Everyone should be able to access health care when they need it, which is especially critical during this public health emergency,” said Senator Cardin. “As record numbers of Americans face job losses and struggle to pay their bills and support their families, Congress must be doing everything it can to make health care more affordable and available than ever. I’m pleased this common sense proposal includes my policy to temporarily eliminate the repayment burden of excess premium tax credits. This, and other common sense measures in this proposal, will help ensure that Americans have coverage when they need it most, like during this public health emergency.”
A brief overview of the policies included in the Senate Democrats’ proposal:
- Cover all costs for COVID-19 treatment, including for the uninsured;
- Deliver subsidies for the cost of COBRA premiums for the newly unemployed;
- Expand and increase access to premium tax credits that help families afford monthly premiums;
- Incentivize Medicaid expansion in remaining states that have not yet expanded;
- Establish a federal special enrollment period;
- Ban the sale of junk plans;
- Restore funding for marketplace outreach and enrollment support;
In addition to Senator Cardin, the proposal is supported by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
The proposal can be read in full here.