Governor Tom Wolf is urging Congress to take action to preserve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) grants to ensure that individuals and families eligible for this important grant can continue to receive health care.
In a joint letter, Governor Wolf and 13 other governors urged Congress to take action and ensure funding is in place to maintain ACA subsidies, known as advanced premium tax credits.
(APTCs), which were expanded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The eligibility for ARPA extension of the grant will expire at the end of the current plan year, exposing consumers to dramatic premium increases.
“Tens of thousands of Pennsylvania residents will be affected when this subsidy extension expires in December, meaning their insurance premiums will rise, putting individuals at health and financial risk. It is critical that we continue to make affordable coverage as accessible as possible for as many people as possible, and I applaud President Joe Biden for his leadership of not only expanding coverage as part of ARPA, but also making it permanent,” said Gov. Wolf. † “I urge Congress to make these grants permanent so that Pennsylvania residents can continue to enjoy a better quality of life through affordable comprehensive ACA coverage.”
Governor Wolf has made access to affordable health insurance a priority during his administration.
In July 2019, Governor Wolf signed legislation establishing Pennie, the state-based ACA marketplace. Pennie replaces healthcare.gov as Pennsylvania’s official destination for buying quality health insurance and the sole source of financial aid to help cover the cost of coverage and care. There are currently nearly 360,000 Pennie customers in the Commonwealth.
In addition to Pennie, Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid in 2015 — one of his first acts as governor — to ensure more Pennsylvanians have access to medical care in Pennsylvania. Today, more than 3.3 million Pennsylvania residents are covered by Medical Assistance, including nearly 1 million people through the expansion. By expanding access to health care, the Commonwealth achieved the lowest uninsured rate in Pennsylvania history during the Wolf Administration, and insurance rates are now the most stable year-over-year than they have ever been.
As governors, we work to expand access to quality, affordable health care for the people of our states. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen the tragic impact of illness and disease among the uninsured and underinsured, particularly in communities of color and other disadvantaged populations. As we have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to affordable health insurance can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. At a time when governments at all levels are struggling to find ways to lower costs for the American people, we cannot allow the looming specter of rising health costs to create more uncertainty and stress for American families. That’s why we urge you to take action and ensure funding is in place to maintain Affordable Care Act (ACA) grants, also known as Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTCs).
We applaud Congress for passing the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), which expanded and enhanced ACA APTCs. The expansion of the ARP’s grants, along with the Biden administration’s investment in marketing and enrollment support, led a record 14.5 million people to sign up for ACA coverage during the most recent open enrollment period, an increase of 21 percent compared to the previous year.
Health insurance coverage is critical to ensuring consumers have access to health care, and the best way to increase enrollment is to make coverage more affordable. The ARP has cut costs for consumers: Families saved an average of $200 per month in premiums, with four out of five consumers qualifying for a subscription for $10 or less. The ARP expanded access to financial assistance and increased the number of consumers eligible for grants by 2.8 million by 2022 compared to the previous year.3 With the Biden administration’s reinvestment in the ACA and proposed regulations To resolve the “Family Glitch,” we have a historic opportunity to build on these enrollment gains and affordability improvements next year and for years to come.
Unfortunately, the ARP extension of the grant will expire at the end of the current plan year, exposing consumers to dramatic premium increases and jeopardizing the progress we’ve made. As inflation continues to strain consumer budgets, we are concerned that many people will choose to reduce health insurance coverage or even go without coverage if Congress fails to act. The Biden Administration estimates that about 3.4 million consumers currently enrolled could lose coverage when the ARP grant extensions expire at the end of 2022. and affect affordability for the wider population. In addition, as the public health emergency is expected to end in the coming months, some consumers will no longer be eligible for Medicaid, but may be eligible for ACA grants. Without the increased subsidies to ensure affordable market options, those consumers are likely to become uninsured.
Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. The ARP has significantly improved the affordability of health insurance to ensure that life-saving health care is accessible to all Americans. We urge you to take immediate action to make the ARP’s extensive grants permanent to prevent a catastrophic health insurance undermining.