U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

Baldwin, Shaheen Call for No Junk Plans Act and Enrollment Assistance in Economic Stimulus Response Legislation

Legislation would overturn Trump's expansion of junk health insurance plans that don't provide comprehensive health care coverage

By - Mar 21st, 2020 01:52 pm

“During an outbreak, it is critical that all Americans have access to the health care services they need.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) are leading a letter to Senate leadership calling for the COVID-19 economic stimulus response legislation to include the No Junk Plans Act, as well as a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and additional funding for outreach and enrollment.This would overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of junk health insurance plans that don’t have to provide comprehensive health care coverage and help ensure that Americans have the ability to sign up for coverage during this public health emergency.

In their letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the Senators write,“During an outbreak, it is critical that all Americans have access to the health care services they need. Unfortunately, when an individual’s source of health coverage is a junk plan, out-of-pocket costs are often a serious concern. These plans, which have been actively promoted by the current Administration, are not required to comply with consumer protections that limit out-of-pocket costs or coverage of essential health benefits, including those that are needed to pay for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 such as hospital care, emergency care, laboratory services, or preventive services. Their expansion leaves our public health system vulnerable. Furthermore, these plans expose American families, already struggling to make ends meet in light of the global economic downturn, to potential financial ruin.”

The letter also asks for the federal Health Insurance Marketplaces to immediately establish a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for at least 60 days and provide additional funding for outreach and enrollment assistance, including the Navigator program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Baldwin, Shaheen and others also called for this last week.

The Senators concluded, “Including this crucial legislation and establishing a SEP in a future legislative proposal to address the outbreak of COVID-19 would promote access to quality, affordable health care coverage when Americans and our larger public health system need it most. We request that you strongly consider this critical solution as you work together to develop a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The full letter is available here and below. An online version of this release is available here.

 

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer,

As health care providers work around the clock to ensure that patients across the country have access to the highest quality care despite the obstacles, we write to request that Congress do its part to bolster the nation’s response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Specifically, we request that congressional leadership ensure that Americans have access to comprehensive health care coverage they can count on. No patient should go without needed treatment for COVID-19 because of cost concerns. Consequently, we request that you include the No Junk Plans Act (S.1556) in the “phase three” COVID-19 legislation before the Senate.

During an outbreak, it is critical that all Americans have access to the health care services they need. Unfortunately, when an individual’s source of health coverage is a junk plan, out-of-pocket costs are often a serious concern. These plans, which have been actively promoted by the current Administration, are not required to comply with consumer protections that limit out-of-pocket costs or coverage of essential health benefits, including those that are needed to pay for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 such as hospital care, emergency care, laboratory services, or preventive services. Their expansion leaves our public health system vulnerable. Furthermore, these plans expose American families, already struggling to make ends meet in light of the global economic downturn, to potential financial ruin.

The No Junk Plans Act (S.1556) is commonsense legislation that would overturn the administration’s expansion of junk health insurance plans that don’t have to provide comprehensive health care coverage. S.1556 is supported by the entire Democratic caucus, and the aim of the legislation has a record of bipartisan support. In addition, we must ensure that those currently enrolled in a junk plan and those that are uninsured can obtain qualified health plan coverage during the COVID-19 crisis. In conjunction with the No Junk Plans Act, we urge you to include requirements for the federal Health Insurance Marketplaces to immediately establish a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that will continue for at least 60 days, and provide additional funding for outreach and enrollment assistance, including the navigator program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Including this crucial legislation and establishing a SEP in a future legislative proposal to address the outbreak of COVID-19 would promote access to quality, affordable health care coverage when Americans and our larger public health system need it most. We request that you strongly consider this critical solution as you work together to develop a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sincerely,

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