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  • Washington Highlights

    House Passes Bill to Strengthen Affordable Care Act


    Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

    The House of Representatives passed a bill on June 30 to expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152) and reform prescription drug pricing. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425) passed on a 234-179 vote, mostly along party lines.

    The legislation would expand the availability of ACA subsidies to additional income brackets, eliminate the “family glitch” that blocks insurance subsidies to low-income families who cannot get workplace coverage, fund outreach and ACA navigators, provide funding for states to set up their own marketplaces, incentivize states to expand Medicaid eligibility, and rescind the expansion of short-term limited-duration health plans. It also includes drug pricing reforms previously passed by the House that would allow the Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate prescription drug prices [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 12, 2019].

    Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) voiced his strong support for the bill. “This legislation strengthens the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the future, which is critical at a time when the Trump Administration and Republicans continue to support a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that would strike down the entire ACA,” Rep. Pallone said. “These actions could result in 23 million Americans losing their health care coverage and the elimination of critical consumer protections for more than 130 million people with pre-existing conditions during the middle of a pandemic.”

    “This legislation is a commonsense, fiscally responsible one-two punch that uses the federal government’s savings from lowering prescription drug costs to lower health insurance costs for Americans,” Rep. Pallone added.

    Prior to the House vote, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy strongly opposing the bill. “This bill attempts to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to resuscitate tired, partisan proposals that would send hundreds of billions of dollars to insurance companies in order to paper over serious flaws in Obamacare,“ the statement said. “Furthermore, H.R. 1425 would pay for this bailout by imposing price controls that undermine the American innovation the entire globe is depending on to deliver the vaccines and therapeutics needed to respond to the coronavirus.”

    The Senate is not expected to take up the bill.