Insurers’ Free Coronavirus Care Waivers Expire July 1; Racial Disparities in Health Care; Trump Continues Attack on ACA

Public Citizen Has You Covered

Welcome to this week’s edition of “We’ve Got You Covered,” a weekly tipsheet designed to highlight key news about Medicare for All and call out the biggest health care industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.

JULY 1: INSURERS’ COVID-19 BENEFITS SET TO EXPIRE

Coronavirus patients soon could receive massive medical bills, as several private insurers’ offers of free COVID-19 care are scheduled to end by July 1.

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, many major insurers announced they were waiving some or all fees for coronavirus treatment. Public Citizen has been closely following these waivers and recently found that while 23 of 25 insurers said they would waive some or all fees for coronavirus treatment, most had set end dates for the waivers.

Some waivers had been scheduled to end by June 1; those waivers were extended only after Public Citizen pointed out the impending expiration. As the end of June approaches, seven insurers continued to list on their websites June 30 as the expiration date of their waivers: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Centene and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Public Citizen contends that the waivers should be extended through the end of the pandemic. But no American wants to be at the mercy of corporate health insurers. That’s why Americans increasingly are demanding not “Medicare Extra” or “Medicare for Some,” but Medicare for All.

TRUMP ADMIN: ACA ‘MUST FALL’ AMID GLOBAL PANDEMIC

Despite more than 125,000 deaths and cases of coronavirus continuing to increase, the Trump administration is determined to take away health care from Americans when they need it most.

The administration, quietly on Thursday night, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. Such a move would end coverage for the 11.4 million people who get their insurance through the marketplace and end Medicaid expansion that covers 12 million people. Insurers also would be allowed, again, to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

It is inhumane to try to take away health care from millions, and even more unconscionable to do so during a historic pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, countries that have a single-payer health care system have much lower coronavirus cases per capita.

RACIAL DISPARITY STATISTICS

In a new blog and webinar, Public Citizen highlighted partner organizations’ research and analysis of racial disparities in health. We also emphasized how Medicare for All would help close those gaps by providing health care to all regardless of race, income and residence, and deliver resources directly to hospitals that serve communities that historically have experienced discrimination.

Health issues are exacerbated by the gap in health care coverage between people of color and white people. People of color over the age of 20 are much more likely to become uninsured, and that disparity lasts until they reach the age of 65 and qualify for Medicare, when rates of any uninsured people drop to almost zero.

And Black Americans make up about 23% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths, despite composing 13% of the U.S. population.

Winning Medicare for All will not uproot this country’s long legacy of racism in all facets of our society, including health care, but the policy would be an essential step in preventing needless pain and suffering in communities of color.

REMINDER:

While Medicare for All always has enjoyed high approval among the U.S. electorate, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the flaws of our profit-driven health care system, building more support for the policy.

A recent poll by The Hill and HarrisX found voter support for Medicare for All at 69%, including 88% of Democrats, 68% of Independents and 46% of Republicans. Additionally, a Newsy/Ipsos poll found that about half of respondents said the pandemic made them more likely to support Medicare for All.

To speak with a Medicare for All policy expert, or if you have questions about Public Citizen’s work, please contact Mike Stankiewicz, mstankiewicz@citizen.org, (202) 588-7779.