Thanks to these investments and last year’s Special Enrollment Period for health insurance, more than 35 million Americans are enrolled in coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act. This is a record high.
While there is much to applaud, what is still ailing our healthcare system? Plainly, it’s politics. The future of our system lies at the mercy of a political game of tug of war.
As we pull toward lowering costs and expanding access, our counterparts tug toward rolling back access and restricting rights. We are for progress, and the other side is for turning the clocks back. Leaving women with fewer rights today than a generation ago. Actively blocking efforts to lower costs for families or capping the price of insulin in favor of protecting pharmaceutical companies.
The American people deserve a healthcare system that puts them first.
From my perch on the Ways and Means Committee, progress means building on our recent accomplishments to make healthcare even more affordable, accessible and equitable. Permanently extending the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits will ensure no American is paying more than 8.5% of their income on health premiums.
We must close the long-standing gap in Medicaid coverage. This will not only provide millions with immediate health coverage, but also close some of the deepest racial fault lines in our system.
Our seniors and people with disabilities are in desperate need of better support and care. We’ve made great strides, including making hearing aids accessible over the counter. Now is the time to bolster these efforts by expanding Medicare coverage to include services for people with hearing loss.
Another major piece of our pandemic recovery is rooted in jobs, and the healthcare sector plays a vital role in opening opportunities to hardworking Americans. This means better supporting our long-term care workers and widening the career pathways for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Investing in health careers means better care, more good-paying jobs and fewer worker shortages.
We are also beginning to see the effects of the climate crisis on health—and the need to support healthcare providers across the country in climate mitigation efforts. Through a request for information, I started a public dialogue on the importance of climate-related risks and carbon emissions in the health sector, and it’s clear the federal government must lead on the path forward.
Progress is well within legislative reach if we can work on a bipartisan basis and focus on what’s best for our healthcare system. The key lesson of the last two years is clear: Your health is your wealth. We need to do whatever it takes to rid our system of the ailments holding us back.
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