The Importance of Accessible and Affordable Health Care
Access to quality health care is a fundamental right that should be available to everyone without exceptions or interruptions. Affordable and accessible health care sustains us and ensures our well-being. However, not having insurance can have significant consequences. Uninsured patients are up to four times more likely to require avoidable hospitalizations and emergency care, compared to insured patients.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made strides in expanding access to health insurance coverage and improving care quality. However, there is still work to be done. Discussions for expanding coverage include the potential expansion of the successful Medicare program, which caters to millions of elderly and disabled Americans. Although “medicare for all” proposals may not be politically or financially feasible in a divided congress, bipartisan solutions are necessary for progress.
The Ministerial Tradition and the Call for Fair Health Care
As a Catholic health ministry, we adhere to our mission of advocating for all, especially the poor and vulnerable. We firmly believe that health care is a basic human right and an essential component of a free and just society, alongside education. Our commitment lies in working towards a fairer and more equitable health care system that ensures access for all individuals.
CHA’s Position and Priorities
CHAs (Catholic Health Association) vision for U.S. health care is guided by principles such as human dignity, concern for the poor and vulnerable, justice, common benefit, management, and pluralism. These principles form the foundation for a health care system that is available, affordable, accessible, patient-centered, safe, effective, and sustainable.
In the 117th Congress, CHA aims to:
- Improve affordability, accessibility, and quality of health coverage for all, particularly those affected by the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
- Preserve access and coverage for the approximately 20 million Americans who obtained insurance under the ACA, including individuals with pre-existing and chronic conditions.
- Embrace innovative approaches like telemedicine to enhance access, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of care.
- Enhance access to mental and behavioral health services, ensuring holistic and coordinated care.
- Ensure availability of care in underserved areas, both rural and urban.
Legislative Support and Recommendations
In the 117th Congress, CHA supported provisions in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that expanded access to affordable health insurance through the ACA. These provisions guarantee that subsidies are available to a wider population, while capping the percentage of income spent on health plans. However, further improvements are needed to benefit individuals and families.
CHA encourages Congress to:
- Roll back expansions of short-term insurance plans and association health plans, which offer limited coverage and discriminate based on age and pre-existing conditions.
- Make permanent the affordability of America’s bailout for low- and moderate-income families, ensuring that no one pays more than a certain percentage of their income on premiums.
- Restore vital consumer protections and repeal guidance that undermines protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
- Reinstate funding for outreach, education, and in-person enrollment assistance, targeting hard-to-reach populations and providing culturally appropriate information.
- Address the “family bug” by allowing three to six million more Americans to purchase health insurance coverage in the marketplace, expanding the risk pool for stability.
- Implement a reinsurance program to assist insurers in managing costs by sharing a portion or allocating risk for expensive enrollees.
In addition, CHA remains dedicated to protecting the Affordable Care Act and has filed an amicus curia brief in support of the law’s constitutionality in Texas v. California.
With a united effort, accessible and affordable health care can become a reality for all, ensuring the well-being and dignity of every individual.