Senate Passes Relief Bill with Expanded Access to Health Coverage

Increased and expanded marketplace subsidies, full COBRA coverage and Medicaid incentives would help stem pandemic-driven coverage loss

March 6, 2021

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Senate has passed legislation that will expand access to health care coverage to more Americans, including cancer patients and survivors, who may have lost their insurance due to the ongoing pandemic.

The bill will increase the eligibility and generosity of subsidies to cover the costs of marketplace health plans—including offering subsides to those who are receiving unemployment benefits—offer financial support to cover all of the premium costs for laid off workers who choose to keep their employer-sponsored health care plans, and boost the federal reimbursement for states to expand their Medicaid programs.

Also included are provisions to provide economic assistance to some nonprofits, many of which are struggling to provide essential services during this time.

A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

“The Senate’s action today brings thousands of Americans, including those affected by cancer, closer to being able to access and afford the health care they need during this public health emergency. The reality is, many people have lost their coverage along with their jobs or been priced out of insurance as they’ve seen their hours reduced and income decline due to the coronavirus pandemic. Covering the premium costs of health insurance—through increased subsidies on the exchange or with continuing employer coverage through COBRA—will provide much-needed assistance to families and individuals struggling to maintain and afford their health care.

“While 38 states and the District of Columbia have expanded access to their Medicaid coverage, 12 states have still not done so. By providing incentives for these states to expand access to their Medicaid programs more individuals will be able to get lifesaving care, reduce health disparities, and save lives.

“Additionally, extending economic relief to nonprofits hit hard by the pandemic—many of which provide critical health related services—will help meet the needs many Americans are facing when it comes to managing their health and their finances.

“It is essential that as many people as possible are able to access and maintain affordable health care coverage, especially during this pandemic. This bill brings us closer to providing the means by which they can do so without skipping screenings, delaying diagnoses and jeopardizing their health. We urge quick action to pass this relief bill into law.”

Media Contacts

Allison Miller
Director, Media Advocacy
Washington, D.C.
Alissa Crispino
Vice President, Media Advocacy & Communications
Washington, D.C.