Underwood Leads Congressional Effort Urging House and Senate Leadership to Make Historic Health Care Affordability Expansion Permanent in Budget Reconciliation Package

August 27, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) led over 30 members of the House of Representatives in an effort urging House and Senate Leadership and Committee Chairs to permanently expand the advance premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. In the letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Chairman Yarmuth, Chairman Sanders, Chairman Neal, and Chairman Wyden, the Members highlighted how the historic health care affordability expansion in the American Rescue Plan has helped millions of Americans gain health care coverage and lower out-of-pocket premium costs during a critically important time as the country faces the coronavirus pandemic. By making this policy permanent, Americans will be able to afford the high-quality care they depend on to protect themselves and the people they love. The Members urged Leadership and Committee Chairs to include a permanent advance premium tax credit expansion in the upcoming budget reconciliation package. 

“If we fail to act now to make the American Rescue Plan advance premium tax credit expansion permanent, Americans will lose the coverage they are now protected by, or once again face premiums that render coverage unaffordable and lead them to forgo insurance altogether. The gains we have made in closing coverage gaps in communities of color will be wiped out,” Members wrote. “We cannot afford to backtrack on the historic progress we’ve made for the American people: we must make the expanded advance premium tax credits in the American Rescue Plan permanent, and we must do it in the upcoming reconciliation package.” 

During the Special Enrollment Period that ended on August 15, 2021, more than 2.5 million Americans signed up for new health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. More than one-third of enrollees found plans that cost $10 or less per month with the expanded advance premium tax credits— bringing the economic security and health protections of coverage within reach for more Americans.  

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.  

August 26, 2021 

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                      The Honorable Charles E. Schumer 

Speaker                                                                           Majority Leader  

United States House of Representatives                    United States Senate  

Washington, DC 20515                                                Washington, DC 20510  

 

The Honorable John A. Yarmuth                               The Honorable Bernie Sanders 

Chairman                                                                       Chairman  

The Committee on the Budget                                    The Committee on the Budget 

United States House of Representatives                    United States Senate  

Washington, DC 20515                                                Washington, DC 20515  

 

The Honorable Richard E. Neal                                 The Honorable Ron Wyden  

Chairman                                                                        Chairman  

The Committee on Ways and Means                         The Committee on Finance  

United States House of Representatives                    United States Senate  

Washington, DC 20515                                                Washington, DC 20515  

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Chairman Yarmuth, Chairman Sanders, Chairman Neal, and Chairman Wyden,  

As you work to develop the reconciliation package, we urge you to make permanent the advance premium tax credit expansion that was included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Our communities are counting on us, their Representatives, to ensure that the high-quality, affordable coverage now available to them will not end when section 9661 of the American Rescue Plan expires in 2023 – we must keep our word to the people who trusted us to represent them in Congress and make permanent this historic step to lower out-of-pocket health care costs for individuals and families.   

Thanks to the expanded advance premium tax credits in the American Rescue Plan, Americans across the country are already seeing their health care costs decrease substantially. During the Special Enrollment Period that ended on August 15, 2021, more than 2.5 million people signed up for new health insurance coverage through the Marketplace. Thanks to the more generous advance premium tax credits from the American Rescue Plan, enrollees have seen average net premium savings of more than $40 per month – a 40 percent reduction in their monthly spending on health coverage that means more money for groceries, school supplies, and essentials that families depend on. More than one-third of enrollees have been able to find plans for $10 or less per month with the expanded advance premium tax credits, bringing the economic security and health protections of coverage within reach for low-income and working-class people—some for the very first time. 

For some households, the advance premium tax credit expansion could provide savings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month: a family of four making $90,000 could see their premiums decrease by $200 per month, while an uninsured couple earning more than $70,000 could save more than $1,000 per month. These savings are immediate and provide financial relief at a time when hard-working families need it the most.  

The expanded advance premium tax credits in the American Rescue Plan also promote health equity, a priority for the Democratic Caucus. Given that the uninsured rate for Black adults is 1.6 times higher than the rate for white adults, and the rate for Hispanic adults is 3.2 times higher, coverage gains will help to address the persistent disparities that can be seen in a wide range of health outcomes, from chronic disease incidence6 to maternal mortality.  

According to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, under the American Rescue Plan’s advance premium tax credit expansion, 50 percent of eligible uninsured Hispanic adults will be able to find a zero-premium plan and 64.5 percent will be able to find a plan for $50 or less per month. Among eligible uninsured Black adults, 45 percent will have access to a zero-premium plan and 59 percent will now be able to find a plan for $50 or less per month.8 By temporarily expanding advance premium tax credits, the American Rescue Plan is reducing our nation’s uninsured rate, providing substantive savings for individuals and families, and taking the most significant step towards health equity since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010.  

But if we fail to act now to make the American Rescue Plan advance premium tax credit expansion permanent, Americans will lose the coverage they are now protected by, or once again face premiums that render coverage unaffordable and lead them to forgo insurance altogether. The gains we have made in closing coverage gaps in communities of color will be wiped out. The 2.5 million people who might now have health insurance for the first time in their adult lives will once again lay awake at night wondering if they are one illness away from bankruptcy.  

We cannot afford to backtrack on the historic progress we’ve made for the American people: we must make the expanded advance premium tax credits in the American Rescue Plan permanent, and we must do it in the upcoming reconciliation package.  

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make high-quality care affordable and accessible to all; the American people are counting on us to get this done, and we must deliver. We stand ready to join you in working to include a permanent advance premium tax credit expansion in the reconciliation package and passing that package swiftly in the House and Senate. Thank you for your leadership in this urgent work to ensure that every American can afford the high-quality health care coverage that will protect themselves and the people they love.  

 Sincerely, 

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