Health Care Action in D.C.
July 2022 - Congress is racing to pass health care legislation (“health care-only” reconciliation bill) before its August recess. The bill would help reel in prescription drug costs and extend much-needed health insurance premium subsidies for people who buy health insurance in the exchanges, such as Connecticut’s Access Health CT.
Please call Senator Blumenthal and Senator Murphy today. Urge them to pass this legislation.
Read Universal’s letter to Senators Blumenthal and Murphy (below).
Read more about why premium subsidies are important: Health Premiums Will Rise Steeply for Millions if Rescue Plan Tax Credits Expire | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (cbpp.org)
Read more about reeling in prescription drug prices: 2022-85_ReducingRxCosts-Update.pdf (familiesusa.org)
July 15, 2022
The Honorable Richard Blumenthal
The Honorable Christopher Murphy
United States Senate
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators Blumenthal and Murphy:
Thank you for continuing to prioritize access to quality, affordable, equitable health care through your work in the United States Senate. I am writing on behalf of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut regarding the urgent need to address two health care issues through budget reconciliation: enhanced premium tax credits and prescription drug affordability. Because time is of the essence, we hope that Congress will act prior to the August recess.
Enhanced Premium Tax Credits
It is crucial that the enhanced premium tax credits funded via the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) be made permanent. Residents who purchase their coverage through Connecticut’s marketplace, Access Health CT, rely on those credits to afford coverage. Right now, these vital subsidies are set to expire at the end of this year. A presentation at the June Access Health CT board meeting estimated that 21,000 enrollees will lose their subsidies entirely, if this program is not continued. Tens of thousands more will have their subsidies reduced.
In fact, our state is standing up a new program, Covered Connecticut, that is relying on one aspect of the ARPA subsidies – zero-dollar coverage for those with incomes under 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Covered Connecticut uses state funds to extend zero-dollar coverage to people with incomes up to 175% FPL. If the foundational federal funding of those up to 150% FPL is lost, that will be a serious, unanticipated hit to the state budget. Or the state may feel forced to pull back on the commitment to provide financial assistance to these extremely low-income enrollees.
The loss of the enhanced premium tax credits will surely lead to an increase in the number of uninsured in Connecticut and put affordability strains on many more residents, during a time when the cost of other essentials such as housing, food, and gas has risen significantly. Meanwhile, health insurance rate requests were just filed with the Connecticut Department of Insurance. The insurer that covers the majority of people through Access Health CT has requested a rate increase of 24%. With open enrollment fast approaching, it is urgent that Congress act as soon as possible to shore up this vital support for Connecticut families.
Prescription Drug Affordability
It is gratifying to see that at least the prescription drug package for the reconciliation bill is moving forward. We support key parts of the legislation, including Medicare price negotiation, out-of- pocket protections for Medicare recipients and inflation rebates when price increases are too high. However, we were disappointed to see that previously agreed-upon essential provisions specific to insulin pricing and out-of-pocket costs were removed from the latest draft. We urge the inclusion of insulin price negotiation and out-of-pocket protections that previously received overwhelming support.
While we continue to work on prescription drug affordability here in Connecticut, there is only so much that can be done at the state level. That is why it is so important that the federal government finally make progress on prescription drug affordability, by addressing both prices and out-of-pocket costs. While so much more needs to get done on this issue, this legislation would be an important first step.
Thank you, again, for your continued advocacy on behalf of the people of Connecticut. I know you will do what you can, so that these two key health access and affordability priorities move forward as expeditiously as possible.
Frances G. Padilla