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Shaheen & Smith, Ranking Members Wyden & Murray Release Senate Democrats' Plan to Expand Health Care Coverage & Affordability During COVID-19

By AP | May 22, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tina Smith (D-MN) alongside Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), today released a Senate Democratic plan to expand health care coverage and affordability during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a white paper, the senators outline a series of common sense legislative priorities that the Senate should take up immediately, including expanding premium support through subsidies and tax credits, incentivizing Medicaid expansion in hold-out states, and a special open enrollment period. Their proposal also calls for all COVID-19 treatment costs to be covered, including for the uninsured.

“Access to health care has never been more important,” said Senator Shaheen. “As our country faces the worst public health crisis in a century, millions are facing furloughs and job losses that make affordable health care coverage an even greater struggle. Americans are sick and tired of the partisan excuses for why health care can’t be more affordable and accessible. There is absolutely no reason why Republicans can’t join Democrats to get this done. This crisis demands bipartisan cooperation – the American people will accept nothing less.”

“We need to rise to the challenge of solving America’s health care coverage and affordability problems, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Senator Smith. “This plan will help more people access comprehensive health care coverage, and at a more affordable cost. We need to move this plan forward because these investments are critical-especially at a time when millions of Americans are on furlough or have lost their jobs.”

“Families across the nation are struggling with the economic consequences of the pandemic, and that includes disruption to their health care access,” Senator Wyden said. “The last thing Americans need right now is to face questions about where they will get health care if they get sick. This proposal outlines practical steps that Congress could pass immediately and give families peace of mind during the pandemic.”

“For families in need, access to quality, affordable health care isn’t a partisan issue-it’s a life and death one. It shouldn’t take a historic global pandemic for Republicans to understand that, but for them to continue ignoring the health care needs of families in the middle of this crisis would be truly inexcusable,” said Senator Murray. “The absolute least we can do in the middle of an unprecedented public health crisis is help people get the health care they need-and Republicans have no excuse to continue playing politics or dragging their feet on getting these common-sense steps done. We need to act now.”