WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 987, the “Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act.” The bill is composed of a package of seven health bills that were voted out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in April. Included in the package were bills that the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) has articulated the need for and supported: H.R. 1386, “Expand Navigators’ Resources for Outreach, Learning and Longevity (ENROLL Act),” and H.R. 987, “Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019.” The bill also takes important steps to reverse the expansion of plans that lack the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) consumer protections and allow further states to set up their own marketplaces.
“This legislation will preserve the gains, and continue the progress that we have made through the Affordable Care Act. It includes increased education, awareness, and marketing of the ACA and Navigators,” said Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of APIAHF. “Navigators serve a critical role in enrolling Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in health insurance, helping communities of color afford the health care they need.”
APIAHF and its partners have seen the importance of ACA outreach first hand through Action for Health Justice (AHJ), a national coalition of more than 70 health groups that provided quality assistance to those navigating the health insurance enrollment process. Over four enrollment periods, AHJ has helped enroll over a million AAs and NHPIs. The work of navigators and other assisters is important to reaching communities who face barriers such as language, income, and low health literacy.
Although warned that decreasing marketing would reduce ACA enrollment, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has continued to cut the Navigator program and enrollment campaign budgets.
“The passage of H.R. 987 represents important strides toward health equity for our communities. Funding and improving the Navigator program, and requiring funding for ACA outreach and marketing are crucial to the work we do,” said Ko Chin. “We hope the Senate takes up this legislation to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to access health care.”