VOICES: Senate must ensure we don’t go backwards on health care costs

Desiree Tims

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Desiree Tims

Our nation is on the verge of another health care crisis, and families across Ohio will pay the price if Congress doesn’t take steps to protect our access to affordable care and coverage.

Millions of Americans had lower health care costs this year thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. For families all across our country and state, the assistance provided by the legislation is an extra layer of financial security and removes the stress of having to choose between affording health care or paying for rent and keeping food on the table. A record number of Americans signed up for marketplace coverage last year, including 260,000 Ohioans. Of those, more than 205,000, or 79 percent, received advanced premium tax credits that were made a reality by the American Rescue Plan. From small business owners to farmers, the average family saved $2,400 a year on their health care.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and its health care provisions have been a Godsend. But, unfortunately, the expanded tax credits that powered those savings will expire at the end of the year, and millions of Americans could see their premiums increase in 2023.

Open enrollment for 2023 begins on November 1, 2022 — just one week before Election Day. This means that if Congress fails to extend the advanced premium tax credits, news of premium increases will be front and center just as Americans begin casting their midterm ballots.

President Biden and the Democrats in Congress have been working tirelessly to keep premiums low and further reduce the cost of health care – while Republicans in Congress, including Representative Mike Turner have been trying to stand in the way. Last November, House Democrats voted to extend the health care premium reductions in the American Rescue Plan to prevent our premiums from skyrocketing at the end of this year.

Now, it is up to the Senate to get on board and extend the premium tax credits for working families.

If the Senate fails to get the bill passed and onto President Biden’s desk for signature, nine million Americans will face increased health care costs and three million people could lose coverage altogether. In Ohio, a 60-year old couple with a household income of $75,000, for example, could see a monthly premium increase of $1,062, back to pre-American Rescue Plan levels. For an Ohio family of four with a household income of $120,000, that number is $349 per month.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan helped give millions of American families peace of mind at a time when we needed it most. We cannot go backwards.This has not only helped families make ends meet during the pandemic, but it’s allowed them to access essential care for the first time in years.

Lawmakers cannot let the health care premium reductions in the American Rescue Plan expire. If they do, millions of Americans will see dramatic increases in their 2023 health insurance premiums, and many will no longer be able to afford insurance at all. But the saving grace is that this is entirely preventable. The Senate must act now to ensure families can continue to afford the health care they need.

Desiree Tims is President & CEO of Innovation Ohio who hails from Dayton, Ohio.

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