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Congressional Tri-Caucus Leaders Call for Biden Administration to Address Medicaid Coverage Gap with American Families Plan

Jun 17, 2021
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led more than 60 of their colleagues in a letter to Congressional leadership and President Biden to close the Medicaid “coverage gap” in the forthcoming American Families Plan. The Medicaid coverage gap affects people who are uninsured and ineligible for coverage because they live in states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

“The coverage gap leaves more than two million Americans with incomes below the poverty line completely uninsured, and nearly 60% of people affected are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander,” said CBC Health Braintrust Chair Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-02). “Closing the coverage gap is a critical step forward in addressing the health inequities so many people are facing in this country.”

“Millions of Americans now have access to live-saving health insurance coverage as a result of Medicaid expansion. However, in the 12 states that have not adopted Medicaid expansion, Medicaid eligibility remains severely limited”, said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09). “At a time when Americans are still facing growing income insecurity, Medicaid coverage gaps leave too many without an affordable coverage option. This is unacceptable. Let me be very clear, health care is a human right. The American Families Plan must include a closure of the Medicaid coverage gap nationally, full stop. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in penning this letter because we have a once-in-a-generation chance to facilitate transformative action to combat healthcare inequities plaguing many throughout the nation.”

“The CBC is pleased to join forces with our Tri-Caucus colleagues in this effort to help close the Medicaid Coverage gap,” said CBC Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-03). “For too long, Black Americans have struggled to find adequate healthcare and deal with systemic disparities.  Medicaid provides comprehensive, affordable, quality health insurance, specifically designed for low-income individuals, many of whom we represent, and that is why we’re strongly urging the Biden Administration to ensure that, regardless of state political decisions or immigration status, everyone eligible for Medicaid expansion is finally able to access the protections of Medicaid.”

“The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the glaring gaps in America’s healthcare system, with communities of color experiencing disproportionate infection and mortality rates from COVID-19,” said CAPAC Chair Judy Chu (CA-27). “With the American Families Plan, we have the opportunity to help close that gap by ensuring that the over 2 million people - 60% of whom are AAPI, Black, or Hispanic - who are eligible for coverage under the Medicaid Expansion have access to affordable healthcare. Ensuring that every American has the ability to take care of their health is more important than ever and an essential part of our recovery. I am proud to be a part of this Tri-Caucus effort to ensure that working families who are above the poverty line – but just barely – are still able to afford quality healthcare.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing health inequities, which harm public health overall,” said CHC Chair Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36). “Closing the Medicaid ‘coverage gap’ is necessary to decrease disparities in coverage rates, affordability of care, and mortality. We must work together to strengthen and expand access to healthcare. I thank my Tri-Caucus colleagues for highlighting the dire need to expand Medicaid coverage.”  

The coverage gap leaves more than two million Americans with incomes below the poverty line uninsured and without any pathway to health coverage. Nearly two million more uninsured people with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty line would be eligible for healthcare coverage if their states expanded Medicaid.  In addition, 60% of people affected by the coverage gap are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander.

According to a recent report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, more than a third of all adults in the coverage gap are women of reproductive age, which could result in women being uninsured during the initial months of pregnancy and contribute to the maternal health crisis. Additionally, much of the affected population lives in the South where state governments have failed to provide basic health coverage for their residents.

The American Families Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring affordable health care to all Americans. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only illuminated the far-reaching, fatal consequences of inadequate access to health care. Addressing the Medicaid coverage gap is critical in correcting decades of unacceptable and unjust denial of health care coverage to underserved and minority populations throughout the United States and in protecting our nation from future pandemics.

Full text of the letters is available here.

 

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Robin Kelly

 

 

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