Senators propose expanding heath care coverage in response to coronavirus pandemic


WASHINGTON (WFXR) — As more Americans lose their jobs and health coverage due to the economic impacts of coronavirus, three senators have come up with a plan.

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) teamed up to speak with news outlets Friday about their plan to expand heath care as part of the solution for not only hospitals’ financial struggle, but also the local and state funding issues.

The number of Americans without coverage is growing daily. Warner’s office said 27 million Americans have no health coverage. Within the last three weeks, 22 million more have filed for unemployment benefits.

Sen. Warner said the number could increase by millions as more Americans lose jobs and health insurance. By strengthening Medicaid, Congress could provide support based on those unemployment rates. In addition, the senators propose Congress provide states who haven’t expanded Medicaid options with extra support and incentives to cover people who lack coverage and expand options as needed.

Second, the senators want to re-open the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace and provide premium relief to enrollees. This could ensure that uninsured individuals may enroll immediately in health care coverage. With that, the senators propose that congress enhance assistance with the Advanced Premium Tax Credits to make sure more Americans will be able to afford the marketplace coverage.

The third item that was proposed in this plan was providing COBRA assistance to individuals with employer-sponsored plans at a more affordable rate. The senators in a press release stated that “Congress should provide premium reimbursement to newly unemployed Americans that may need to pay the entire premium cost of the employer sponsored healthcare coverage they previously elected in accordance with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).”

Sen. Warner said President Donald Trump made the right decision by delegating the guidelines for re-opening states to governors. He explained that the guidelines have been moving targets, and some people have been left excluded.

The senators proposed that by re-opening enrollment, and potentially making amendments to enhanced COBRA and other health care plans, people would have more options than what Sen. Warner referred to as “junk plans.” The senators hope that these new proposals could help alleviate the strain on current hospital funding, essential workers on the front lines, as well as the struggles of Americans in need of health care.

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