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U.S. House Passes Measure to Stabilize ACA Marketplace

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation to bolster critical portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). H. R. 1425—The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act—is omnibus legislation, consolidating several ACA-related bills into a single measure.

Chiefly, the legislation contains measures to:

  • Expand access to coverage under the ACA
  • Lower the cost of health care, including the prices of some prescription drugs
  • Protect people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage
  • Reverses the Trump Administration’s expansion of short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans
  • Bolsters funding and eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Permanently authorizes CHIP funding (the program was funded through the end of fiscal year 2027)

The measure’s momentum comes on the heels of recent action by the Trump Administration aimed at dismantling the ACA. In a brief filed last week, the Justice Department argued that the entire ACA became invalid when Congress voted to eliminate the individual mandate penalty for uninsured people.

Overturning the ACA could impact more than 20 million Americans who are insured through the program—and potentially millions more newly jobless individuals who may need to secure coverage through the exchange. In addition to threatening access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage, the ACA provides critical protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, including a growing number of COVID-19 survivors who are developing potentially long-term health complications.

Shortly after COVID-19 emerged, President Trump refused to reopen the law's health insurance marketplaces to make it easier for uninsured people to get coverage. Administration health officials have said they will not put forward an alternative to the ACA unless the Supreme Court first strikes down the law.

The Supreme Court, which upheld the ACA in the two previous major challenges, will hear the case this fall but is unlikely to issue a decision before the November 3 election. The original lawsuit was filed more than two years ago and was initially seen as a long shot; however, it gained momentum after a conservative federal judge in Texas ruled in the challenging states’ favor. During May, HAP, along with several other state hospital associations, filed a joint amicus brief in support of keeping the ACA in place.

For more information, contact Jolene Calla, Esq., HAP’s vice president, health care finance and insurance.

 


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