Tell Congress to expand health care access this year!
Twelve years ago today, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. This historic legislation: banned discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy; eliminated lifetime caps; vastly expanded access to affordable health care for low- and middle-income families; required adult children be allowed to stay on their parents plans until age 26; made birth control and other preventive services copay free; and so much more!
The ACA has led to historic advancements in health equity and improved the health of women and children, communities of color, people with disabilities, and people who are LGBTQI+. Now, what’s next after 12 years of the ACA? We must continue to build on this progress by closing the Medicaid “coverage gap” in the 12 states that have refused to expand this program for low-income adults, and by making temporary tax credit improvements in the ACA Marketplace permanent.
What’s happening? Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic when the need for health care coverage has been made even more apparent, there are still 12 states that have refused to expand Medicaid to low-income adults under the ACA. Everyone, regardless of race, class, or zip code, deserves to have health care coverage.
Closing the unfair coverage gap is important to help end discrimination in health care coverage: Right now, the majority of the over 2 million people who are currently in this “coverage gap” are people of color. The uninsured rates among Black and Latinx/Hispanic adults remains disproportionately higher than that of white adults, especially in these states. This disparity is largely reflective of unfair economic inequities, including that Black and Latinx/Hispanic adults are less likely to get health coverage from their employers, as well as of unfair immigration policies that constrain coverage options for many people.
In addition, last year under the American Rescue Plan, Congress included a temporary increase in premium tax credits through 2022 for people buying coverage through the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace. This increase led to a record 14.5 million people enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace this year and enabled millions of middle-class families to gain health care coverage who would not otherwise be able to afford it. 
We need to protect the gains we’ve made for families and expand access and affordability for health care coverage. For the health of our families, communities, and country, it is critical for Congress to close the Medicaid gap and make permanent the tax credit improvements in the Marketplace as part of an economic package this year.