WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Josh Peck, co-founder of Get America Covered, on Thursday in a press conference to promote the start of open enrollment which starts tomorrow, November 1, and runs through December 15, 2019. The members also called for passage of the Expand Navigators’ Resources for Outreach, Learning, and Longevity (ENROLL) Act to restore funding for the Navigator program that helps American families get the information and support they need to find a quality health care plan.
Since President Trump took office, his administration has slashed federal funding for the Navigator program by 84 percent, meaning fewer people in America have received the support they need to obtain quality, affordable coverage. Navigators are essential to helping families, especially in rural, underserved communities, enroll in health care coverage that meets their needs.
The ENROLL Act would restore funding for the Navigator program that helps American families get the information and support they need to find a quality health care plan at a price they can afford. The House of Representatives passed the companion legislation 168 days ago with bipartisan support as part of H.R. 987, but the Republican majority in the Senate refuse to bring the legislation up for a vote.
“The number one issue for people in Connecticut is how they’re going to make sure that they have affordable health care for their family,” said Murphy. “And I wish we didn't have to be here advertising the open enrollment period, but the reality is the number of people with health insurance is going down year after year because President Trump and Senate Republicans’ sabotage campaign is working. As Democrats, we’re going to remain vigilant to make sure that people know the real choices they have and the pitfalls for signing up for junk plans. And we’re going to hold Republicans accountable, who still seem to have a political agenda when it comes to health care, rather than priorities that match up with the folks that we all represent.”
“President Trump has spent the last two years working to sabotage our health system and Senate Republicans have let him. As a result, there are more Americans uninsured today than when President Trump took office,” said Baldwin. “We want to protect and expand access to quality health care coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act. We want to make sure Americans have better access to quality health care plans at a price they can afford, whether its private insurance through the ACA marketplace, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. We want to pass the Enroll Act so more people get covered.”
“168 days ago, the House of Representatives passed the ENROLL Act to help people sign up for the health care they need. Instead of prioritizing the health care of millions of American families, Leader McConnell has buried this bill in his legislative graveyard. I am committed to protecting people with pre-existing conditions and making sure every family has access to affordable, quality health care,” said Stabenow.
“As open enrollment kicks off, this straightforward bill accomplishes a goal that should be absolutely bipartisan—making it easier for people to find quality, affordable health care that meets their needs. Supporting this bill should be a no-brainer for any Senator who actually cares about patients and families, and actually wants people to have quality affordable health care,” said Murray. “I’m sure many Senate Republicans would prefer Democrats accept ‘no’ for an answer on important steps like this—but we’re not going to. Democrats are going to continue doing everything we can to protect families’ care and urging Republicans to drop the partisanship and work with us to help more families get covered and ensure everyone can get the care they need.”
“Even as the Trump administration fuels the fires of uncertainty for people around the country, millions of families will be able to go to Healthcare.gov on November 1st to shop for plans that provide them with health coverage,” Wyden said. “While Americans are looking for affordable health care plans on healthcare.gov, there are going to be a lot of scam artists on the prowl outside of the official website trying to pawn so-called ‘junk plans’ onto unsuspecting families. Families can avoid shams like these junk plans by visiting Healthcare.gov before December 15th and enrolling in a quality health insurance plan. Congress should be making it easier to sign up for health care by passing the ENROLL Act, not standing in the way.”
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, no one can be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition and tens of millions of Americans have obtained quality, comprehensive health coverage through the marketplaces or expanded Medicaid,” said Peck, Co-Founder at Get America Covered. “At Get America Covered we are working to cut through the noise and help inform Americans across this country about the low or no-cost options available and how to sign up for affordable, quality coverage. Almost nine out of ten marketplace consumers are eligible for tax credits, and two-thirds can find a comprehensive plan for $10 or less per month. We encourage everyone who wants to get covered, or is even thinking about it, to visit HealthCare.gov, see what they are eligible for, and sign up for the coverage they and their families need before the December 15 deadline."
A full transcript of Murphy’s remarks are below:
“Thank you very much Patty. Thank you to Senator Baldwin for bringing us together and to our leader on many of these issues—Senator Stabenow.
“Every year, I take about a week's time over the summer to walk across my state from one end to the other and it's a great grounding exercise because I really get to learn what matters and how priorities are changing to people across my state.
“And there is one consistent aspect to this walk, which is that every single year, the number one issue has very little to do with what's dominating the cable news headlines, because it doesn't change. It’s healthcare. The number one issue for families out there is how they're going to make sure that they have affordable health care for their family.
“And I wish we didn't have to be here advertising the open enrollment period. I wish that President Trump was doing his job. I wish that Republicans were doing their job and making it easier, rather than harder, for people to sign up for affordable health insurance.
“But the reality is the number of people with insurance in this country is going down year after year after year because the Trump administration sabotage campaign is working. It is working. And so we have to be vigilant as Democrats to make sure that we are doing everything within our power to counteract this Republican campaign to destroy the healthcare system and the Affordable Care Act.
“The fact of the matter is we need these navigators more than ever before, because there are scam artists out there, that are trying to sell people insurance that is not actually insurance.
“You do a Google search this morning for open enrollment and the first ad that comes up is for a company selling a health insurance plan that costs $30 a month. Well, let me tell you $30 a month doesn't get you any health insurance.
“And the navigators that would be funded by the ENROLL Act, make sure that when folks sign up for health care, they sign up for real health care. These short term plans, these ‘junk plans’ are just that, they’re junk. There's one plan out there that doesn't cover your hospitalizations if they occur on a Friday or a Saturday—that’s in the fine print. That's why you need help in order to sign up for a plan that works for you.
“Whether it be the lawsuit to try to destroy the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration's campaign to undercut the navigators and folks who help people sign up, or the entire Republican Party's desire to see the health care system go into downward spiral.
“As Democrats in the Senate, we're going to remain vigilant and make sure that people know the real choices that they have, know the pitfalls of signing up for a ‘junk plan.’ We're going to hold Republicans accountable, who still seem to have a political agenda when it comes to health care, rather than priorities that match up with the folks that we all represent.
“With that, really glad to have with us, as somebody who's leading the fight to make sure that folks sign up for health care plans that makes sense for them during the open enrollment period. I'm going go run and vote as well—Josh Peck from Get America Covered.”