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Opinion | Permanent health coverage subsidies are critical

The pandemic made it clear that more Americans need the opportunity to access quality, affordable health coverage.

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With news about the ongoing pandemic and our timeline for recovery evolving every day, it is more important than ever that we continue to prioritize the health of our family, friends, and neighbors. While so much is still unclear, one thing is certain: we can’t begin to return to normal, grow our economy, get back to work, or safely see loved ones unless we protect our health and receive the care we need, when we need it.

Right now, as Congress works to pass this year’s budget reconciliation package, it is critical that they make health coverage subsidies permanent.

These subsidies, expanded in the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year, made 40,400 uninsured Alabamians newly eligible for health coverage tax credits. That’s 40,400 of our family members, neighbors, and community members who can now purchase health insurance who otherwise would have had to go without care because health coverage fell outside of their financial means.

Sadly, these subsidies are set to expire next year — unless Congress acts to make them permanent.

With so much uncertainty still surrounding the coronavirus pandemic that’s in its second year, now is the time to solidify our progress toward ensuring that every Alabamian and every American has the access to affordable health care and coverage they deserve.

If the subsidies are made permanent by Congress, nearly 58,000 uninsured Alabamians could have access to affordable coverage and care through federal marketplace tax credits next year. And as more individuals access health insurance, they are more likely to seek the care they need to remain safe and healthy.

Affordable health coverage is necessary not only to ensure that Alabamians are able to access the care they need, but also to help our economy, schools, businesses, and families get back on their feet.

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Our return to normalcy will not happen overnight, but the very first step is ensuring that we have a healthy strong workforce and that our parents, grandparents, teachers, and neighbors are safe enough to move forward in recovery themselves.

The pandemic made it clear that more Americans need the opportunity to access quality, affordable health coverage. It’s a need that existed long before coronavirus struck our country. And by making the enhanced ARPA subsidies permanent, Congress can help make sure that we will not regress and that we continue moving toward ensuring any American can access the health care and coverage their families need.

Between February and May of this year alone, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data shows that 25,127 Alabama residents signed up for marketplace coverage, demonstrating the need in our state for expanded access to coverage that our families can afford.

In making the subsidies permanent, our representatives would ensure that this massive relief remains available for years to come.

I am grateful for leaders in Congress like Congresswoman Terri Sewell who has consistently demonstrated her support for enhanced health care across Alabama. I hope that we can rely on our congressmen and women to solidify our progress in the reconciliation package as we continue prioritizing our health and Alabama’s recovery.

Written By

Wade Perry is the executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party.

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