Letter to the Hon. Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Hon. Frank Pallone, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Hon. Bobby Scott, Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee - New Democrat Coalition Members Urge Committee Leadership to Strengthen the ACA, Paving the Way for Affordable Universal Coverage


Dear Chairman Neal, Chairman Pallone, and Chairman Scott:

Thank you for the work you have done in your committees exploring ways we can lower health care costs, expand coverage and access, and improve quality of care across the country. Our constituents elected a Democratic majority in the House by choosing candidates who stood strongly in support of protecting those with pre-existing conditions and bringing down health care costs for all. Building upon your work and the work of the New Democrat Coalition last Congress, we urge your committees to deliver on the promises made to our constituents by prioritizing strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and continuing the path toward universal affordable coverage.

First, we believe the House Democratic Caucus should immediately work to stabilize the individual health care marketplace. After years of damage done to the ACA from past Republican Congresses and the Administration, we must start by reversing the sabotage. Junk insurance plans, potentially harmful changes to state innovation waivers, elimination of cost sharing support, and reduced funding for enrollment outreach have only served to make the individual market less stable and uncertain for those with pre-existing conditions.

Second, we can also fortify the ACA by taking proactive steps to bring down costs for consumers. For example, the Congressional Budget Office found that the ACA's temporary transitional reinsurance program reduced premiums by as much as 10 percent. Congress should create a dedicated reinsurance program once more. We also know that expanding health insurance enrollment would strengthen the health care marketplace and lower health care costs for millions of patients. One way to achieve this goal is to create state innovation grants, as was proposed in H.R. 5155, to help states experiment with new ideas such as auto-enrollment and regional exchanges. Additional actions we could take include providing additional premium assistance, providing more options for Americans near Medicare eligibility age, or reforming bidding areas to encourage competition.

All of these policy solutions would build upon the success of the ACA and deliver on our promises to constituents to work for them and make real progress toward more affordable and universal healthcare. Now that we are in the House Majority, we must follow through on these pledges and take decisive action to tackle rising health care costs. We know that these issues already have broad bipartisan support, and we urge you to continue your efforts from last Congress. We believe these goals are achievable in the 116th Congress, and the New Democrat Coalition is ready to support you in these efforts.