U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Patty Murray (D-WA) to release 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 Durbin’s proposal to help laid-off workers remain on their employer health plans free of charge through the COBRA program. The proposal also recommends expanding premium support through subsidies and tax credits, incentivizing Medicaid expansion in hold-out states, and the creation of a federal special open enrollment period. Their proposal also calls for all COVID-19 treatment costs to be covered, including for the uninsured.
“Having access to affordable and quality health insurance has never been more important. Our proposal lays out steps the Senate should be considering, like helping laid-off workers keep their employer health plans, expanding Medicaid, and creating a special enrollment period, in order to give American families affordable health care coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Durbin said.
“All Americans deserve access to the best healthcare possible, especially in the midst of this global pandemic,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to release this plan with Senators Shaheen, Smith, Wyden and Murray to expand affordable health coverage options and protect Americans from out-of-pocket COVID-19 testing and treatment costs.”
A brief overview of the policies included in the proposal:
- Cover all costs for COVID-19 treatment, including for the uninsured;
- Deliver subsidies for the cost of COBRA premiums for the newly unemployed;
- Expand and increase access to premium tax credits that help families afford monthly premiums;
- Incentivize Medicaid expansion in remaining states that have not yet expanded;
- Establish a federal special enrollment period;
- Ban the sale of junk plans;
- Restore funding for marketplace outreach and enrollment support;
The proposal is also supported by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Chris Coons (D-DE), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).
The proposal can be read in full here.