Kathy Castor Introduces Proposals to Expand the Affordable Care Act

Noting that it is the eleventh anniversary of then-President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., wants to expand it “by funding the navigators who connect Americans with health plans and ensuring junk plans now must comply with the ACA’s consumer protections.”

On Wednesday, Castor showcased two bills that she is championing on Capitol Hill. Earlier in the week, she spoke on behalf of them before the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee.

“The Affordable Care Act has provided affordable, comprehensive coverage to over 2.1 million Floridians, and outlawed discrimination for preexisting health conditions, strengthened Medicare and allows kids to stay on their parents’ plan to age 26. And with passage of the American Rescue Plan, consumers will see lower costs through new tax credits for quality coverage, including 318,000 newly eligible uninsured Floridians. I’m proud to have championed the ACA 11 years ago and am committed to universal, affordable coverage for all,” Castor said on Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, Castor introduced the “Expand Navigators’ Resources for Outreach, Learning and Longevity (ENROLL) Act” which “guarantees funding for navigator initiatives that provide critical assistance to help hardworking individuals and families pick the health plan that is right for them.”

On Wednesday, Castor spoke about that bill.

“Families in Florida and across America have been aided every year by independent navigators, including the critical effort lead by USF Florida Covering Kids and Families, that help people find the best option for their health insurance. The incredible work of local navigators has allowed the Sunshine State to lead the way in ACA marketplace sign-ups every year. My ENROLL Act will provide certainty for Floridians by securing funding for the vital services that independent, unbiased navigators provide to our neighbors before, during and after Affordable Care Act open enrollment,” said Castor.

The bill has no co-sponsors and no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Earlier in the month, Castor filed a proposal which “would eliminate the exemption for short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI), or ‘junk plans’ from the ACA’s consumer protections like bans on preexisting condition exclusions, charging our neighbors with preexisting conditions more or bars annual and lifetime limits” and she weighed in on it on Wednesday.

“So many companies are taking advantage of our neighbors who are searching for health plans and luring them into purchasing cheap, but insufficient coverage. Just last week, a local couple with a junk insurance plan was dropped without notice and had to pay out of pocket for a CAT scan. This is outrageous, and we can’t have our neighbors to suffer from these surprise costs anymore. The fraudulent tactics that these plans engage in to skirt paying medical bills go against the grain of what the ACA set out to do and were pushed by the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans when their efforts to repeal the ACA failed. Eliminating junk plans is an important step to increasing transparency in coverage and ensuring Americans aren’t on the hook for costly, out-of-pocket costs,” said Castor.

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-NY, is the only House co-sponsor for that bill. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

First elected to Congress in 2006, Castor is one of the top Democrats on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee which oversees health policy among other things. Castor represents parts of Hillsborough County in a secure Democratic district. Back in November, Castor easily handled Christine Quinn, taking more than 60 percent of the vote. Castor is the chairwoman of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

KEVIN DERBY
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