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Pallone Unveils Legislative Package to Make Health Care & Prescription Drugs More Affordable

June 24, 2020
Press Release
Legislation Also Expands Access to Health Care, Protects People with Pre-Existing Conditions & Reverses Administration’s Ongoing Sabotage of the ACA

Washington, D.C. – As Americans face both the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting severe economic downturn, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today unveiled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, a legislative package that will provide much needed relief by making health care and prescription drugs more affordable. The legislation also expands access to health care, strengthens protections for people with pre-existing conditions, reduces racial and ethnic health coverage disparities and reverses the Trump Administration’s harmful actions to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act makes health care more affordable by lowering health insurance premiums with strengthened and expanded affordability assistance. Specifically, the legislation expands eligibility for premium tax credits beyond 400 percent of the federal poverty line and increases the size of tax credits for all income brackets. The legislation creates a national reinsurance program to help cover the costs of consumers with expensive medical conditions, which helps lower premiums, and provides funds to states to help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for everyone. It also offers funding to states to establish their own State-Based Marketplaces, which oftentimes have lower premiums.

The legislation also makes prescription drugs more affordable by empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and making those prices available to Americans with private health insurance. It will stop drug companies from ripping off Americans and charging them more than other countries for the same drugs. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that drugs subject to negotiation will see price reductions of up to 55 percent. 

“The American people are anxious about their health and their economic future, and this legislation provides critical relief by making health care and prescription drugs more affordable,” Congressman Pallone said. “Too many New Jerseyans are forced to choose between putting food on the table for their family and taking a lifesaving drug. This commonsense legislation takes the savings from lower prescription drug costs and invests it into lowering health care premiums and expanding access to affordable care. All around, that’s a win for the American people. We must take action to lower these soaring costs, expand access to health care, rein in the Trump Administration’s efforts to sabotage the ACA and protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one-third of American adults report that they or a family member have not filled a prescription, rationed medication below their prescribed dose, or skipped doses altogether because they could not afford the full cost. In New Jersey, the average annual cost of prescription drugs rose nearly 58 percent between 2012 to 2017. In 2017, 24 percent of New Jersey residents did not take medication as prescribed because of high costs.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act:

  • Encourages states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs to do so by renewing the ACA’s original expanded federal match.  If all states expanded Medicaid, about 4.8 million more Americans would be eligible for Medicaid, including an estimated 2.3 million people who are uninsured;
  • Reverses the Trump Administration’s efforts to give states waivers to undermine pre-existing condition protections and weaken standards for essential health benefits;
  • Stops the expansion of junk insurance plans that allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, put consumers at financial risk, and drive up comprehensive insurance costs;  
  • Restores critical outreach and enrollment funding that has been gutted by the Trump Administration and provide funding for navigators to assist consumers in signing up for health care;  
  • Combats the maternal mortality epidemic, which continues to particularly impact Black and Native American people, by extending Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage to new mothers from the current 60 days post-partum to one year;
  • Further reduces racial and ethnic health inequities by expanding coverage and premium assistance to more Black and Hispanic Americans; and 
  • Protects vulnerable populations from losing health coverage by ensuring that Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries receive a full 12 months of coverage once enrolled, protecting them from interruptions due to fluctuations in their income throughout the year.

A one-page summary is available here. A section-by-section is available here. Text of the bill is available here.