Maryland Democrats Pay Tribute To AFA On 11th Anniversary
Dan Shalin, Owings Mills Patch
Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, marked the 11th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Tuesday by discussing how the legislation has been strengthened thanks to the passage of American Rescue Plan (ARP), the $1.6 trillion relief package signed into law earlier this month.
Speaking at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Sarbanes said the coronavirus relief bill is another step in achieving the goals of the AFA, helping more Americans gain access to high-quality and affordable health care.
"One of the things the American Rescue Plan did was it built, as we know, on the Affordable Care Act in significant ways - potentially transformative ways," said Sarbanes, who is the the vice chair of the House Health Subcommittee. "(The ARP) made it possible for more Americans to access, in an affordable way, health care coverage at a time when they were struggling financially."
Sarbanes continued: "It (the ARP) expands the ACA's tax subsidies – including, for the first time, Americans above 400 percent of the federal poverty line. And we know that this has been a real issue for families across the country. So, the ARP was a meaningful response to that challenge."
Sarbanes said he hopes the ARP is just the latest of several steps that will further the goals of the ACA.
"The American Rescue Plan has shown that there really is a path forward to expand coverage and to view the ACA as that bedrock, and I think we can learn from that ... and continue to offer great ideas to strengthen and improve coverage for all."
Sen. Ben Cardin, meanwhile, hailed the AFA in a Tuesday tweet.
"Eleven years ago, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. By expanding access to care and protecting coverage for millions of Americans, the ACA reinforced the truth that health care is a human right. Now, more than ever, we must continue to strengthen the ACA and quality care for all," Cardin wrote.
In his tweet, marking the 11th anniversary of the AFA, Sen. Chris Van Hollen lauded President Joe Biden's repeated efforts to extend the special enrollment period for the ACA, first from Feb. 15 to May 15, and earlier this week until Aug. 15, according to NBC News.
"Eleven years ago, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. It's needed now more than ever," Van Hollen wrote. "Biden opened enrollment, and in just two weeks 200,000 more Americans signed up. The GOP sought to rip away affordable health care, but access to health care is a human right."