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AHA, AHIP, & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Call on Congress to Expand Coverage Options During Pandemic

Analysis  |  By Jack O'Brien  
   April 28, 2020

The three organizations sent a letter to leaders of both houses of Congress on Tuesday morning.

The American Hospital Association (AHA), America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday morning that called on them to protect and expand health coverage for employers and workers.

The letter was sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Related: AHA CEO Warns of Hospital Closures Over Coronavirus Without Government Help

The document listed five policy proposals to improve healthcare access during the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has infected nearly 1 million people across the U.S. and led to over 15 million people to file for unemployment in the past month.

"Employers need more support – and workers need to be able to continue their stable, secure coverage," the letter read. "As you consider the next round of legislation to overcome COVID-19, we urge you to prioritize maintaining private health benefits for individuals and families and to increase coverage options for those who are already uninsured."

The organizations urged Congress to provide temporary subsidies during the crisis to offset the cost of health coverage, cover the full cost of coverage for unemployed workers under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, and temporarily lift the limit on qualifying expenses through health savings accounts.

Additionally, the three organizations pressed Congress to open a special enrollment period for the health insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act while also increasing the eligibility for subsidies in the marketplace.

The letter stated that while the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has used a portion of the $100 billion allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act to cover the cost of care for uninsured populations, this is not a sustainable solution compared to the suggested policy proposals.

Related: AHA Lauds $117B Coronavirus Emergency Package as 'Important First Step'

The organizations urged congressional leaders to consider the recommendations that would "include protections against preexisting conditions and establishing a regular connection between patients and care providers."

"Nothing is more important than your health,” Rick Pollack, CEO of AHA, said in a press release. "In these uncertain times, coverage can give you, your friends and family peace of mind. And this is critical as we seek to flatten the curve, fight this deadly virus and put America back to work."

While the three organizations coauthored the letter, another 30 healthcare organizations cosigned on the policy proposals, including the American Nurses Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and the Federation of American Hospitals.

Related: AHA Backs OIG, as Trumps Calls Scathing Report on Hospital Chaos 'Just Wrong'

Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: Washington, District of Columbia, USA - February 26 2019: Headquarters of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main lobbying organization of U.S. business and corporations / Editorial credit: Polina LVT /

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