WASHINGTON – The Federation of American Hospitals along with a wide-ranging group of health care and business organizations sent a letter to congressional leaders on Tuesday urging them to “take immediate action to support employers and workers by protecting and expanding high quality, affordable health care coverage” during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn said, “Congress acted in the coronavirus bills to ensure America’s income security, now is the time to act on health care security. The economic crisis is a health coverage crisis too. With pandemic job losses, many Americans are losing their private coverage. It is mission critical for Congress to assure the newly unemployed can keep their health care.”
In the letter, the groups expressed appreciation for the swift action already taken by Congress but wrote in the letter that more needs to be done to ensure the millions of Americans left unemployed by the COVID-19 crisis do not lose their health coverage.
“Loss of health care coverage will create additional financial and emotional stress on individuals and families, reduce resources available to the health care system at a time where providers must increase capacity to address the COVID-19 surge, and stymie public health interventions that require routine engagement between individuals and the health care system,” the letter states.
The groups urged lawmakers to enact several policies to prioritize maintaining private health benefits for individuals and families and increase coverage options for those who are already uninsured. They include:
- Provide Employers with Subsidies to Preserve Health Benefits
- Cover the Cost of COBRA Premiums for the Recently Unemployed who have employer-sponsored insurance
- Open a Special Enrollment Period for the Health Insurance Marketplaces
- Increase Eligibility for Federal Subsidies for the Health Insurance Marketplaces
The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Groups signing onto the letter included FAH, AHA, AHIP, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Rural Health Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, the Children’s Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association and two dozen other groups.
The full letter can be found here.