Bipartisan Policy Recommendations for Dealing with Coronavirus Threat in Health

As the threat of COVID-19 grows across the country, it is critical that Congress and the Administration act quickly to limit the spread of this virus and ensure that individuals are able to seek the care that they need to protect themselves, their families, and the public without fear of financial ruin. In addition, we must act to protect health care workers and invest in strengthening our public health system to handle both this crisis and future threats.

To achieve these goals, BPC Action recommends the following actions: 

  • Congress should eliminate cost-sharing for services provided to treat COVID-19 in those who test positive in all private insurance plans and Medicare, including Medicare Advantage. It should implement a reinsurance or CSR type program to pay for the covered cost-sharing to ensure that costs are not passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums.
  • Congress should increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for state Medicaid programs that are facing increased Medicaid enrollment due to the economic downturn as well as increased costs for caring for those with COVID-19. Congress has taken this step and included an additional FMAP in past economic stimulus packages, most recently during the great recession. 
  • Congress should provide funding for hospitals and health care providers that provide treatment to uninsured individuals who test positive for COVID-19 similar to disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments. 
  • Congress should establish a Public Health Infrastructure Fund, a mandatory appropriation that can fill the estimated $4.5 billion/year gap between what we currently spend on public health and what we need to spend as a nation to provide sufficient funding for all communities to provide certain foundational public health capabilities – like surveillance, lab capacity, and all-hazards preparedness.
  • Congress should provide additional funding for health care worker protection, including personal protective equipment. 
  • Congress should end surprise medical bills. BPC supports a policy that relies on private negotiations between the parties to resolve the problem, backed by a limit on payments tied to a median rate as recommended in the bipartisan proposal originally reported by the Senate HELP Committee.
  • HHS should provide a special enrollment period for uninsured individuals to purchase health insurance on the ACA market places. Congress should implement a reinsurance program for health insurance plans that incur significant costs related to COVID-19 treatment to ensure that costs are not passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums. 
  • Congress should continue to support Project Bioshield and commitments to purchasing a sufficient quantity of the COVID-19 vaccine once developed to ensure that vaccine manufacturers have sufficient incentive to invest in research, development, and production.
  • Congress should also continue efforts highlighted in the first emergency supplemental to ensure that the vaccine is affordable once available. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should suspend implementation of the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule given concerns that it may discourage individuals from seeking needed treatment for COVID-19 and worsen public spread.