American Rescue Act
- Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment Period
To help people to get coverage and change their plans during the pandemic and economic crisis, President Biden has opened a Special Enrollment Period in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces now through May 15. Visit Healthcare.gov to see your options.
- Increased ACA Premium Subsidies
The American Rescue Plan eliminated or vastly reduced premiums for many people with low or moderate incomes who enroll in plans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces. There is now subsidy eligibility for people with somewhat higher incomes who face high premium burdens. Additionally, people who receive UI benefits in 2021 will now have their premium tax credits set at a level that guarantees they get the most generous premium tax credits if they enroll in an ACA marketplace plan, regardless of their year-end income. Kaiser Family Foundation has created a Marketplace Subsidy Calculator tool.
- Enhanced Premium Tax Credits
For people enrolled, especially those whose income fluctuated last year, will not have to repay the federal government for large portions of their premium tax credits. Previously, enrollees were supposed pay back some or all of the credit they get in advance if their year-end income is higher than they estimated. The American Rescue Plan eliminated these repayments for low- and moderate-income households if their 2020 income ended up higher than they predicted when they signed up for marketplace coverage. This could have happened if you got a better job part-way through the year or worked an essential job that demanded more hours than they anticipated because of the pandemic.
- If you lost job-based coverage but would like to keep it:
You can keep your coverage for as long as 18 months under COBRA. The American Rescue Plan now provides federal funding to cover 100 percent of the cost of people’s premiums for “COBRA” coverage from one month after enactment of the bill through September. Contact your employer if you are interested. Apply for COBRA here.
- You recently lost your job and need health coverage, but your income is close to zero:
You may be able to qualify for TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program if you are uninsured, pregnant, a child under age 19, a parent or relative caretaker of a dependent child(ren) under age 21, disabled, elderly, and/or meet the financial eligibility criteria. Your child may qualify for coverage even if you don’t. You should go directly to TennCare Connect or Benefits.gov to check your Medicaid eligibility.
- Do you need help applying for TennCare? There are four ways that you can get help:
- Call TennCare Connect at (855) 259-0701 to get help over the phone. You can get help from private groups. Find someone near you. You can also call (866) 475-7879 or the Marketplace at (800) 318-2596 to apply directly over the phone.
- If you have a disability, call your local Area Agency on Aging and Disability (AAAD) at (866) 836-6678.
- Go-to website for Tennessee disability resources: Tennessee Disability Pathfinder COVID-19 page.
- Tennessee Disability Pathfinder is also prepared to take calls for disability-related questions, including through their multi-cultural program: (800) 640-4636.
Universal Health Care
I believe that health care is a fundamental human right. I proudly voted for the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”), the largest expansion of health coverage in the U.S. in the last half century. Attitudes are changing. More people are starting to agree with us that we need health care and health insurance for everybody. This is especially true now when so many people have lost their jobs and health insurance during COVID-19. I worked closely with President Obama in developing the ACA. I have taught health policy at Vanderbilt for 20 years. I know how important it is to get everyone insured.
The quickest, easiest way to get more Tennesseans covered is to expand Medicaid, but Tennessee has deliberately chosen not to do that. Our state legislature made a terrible mistake in turning down Governor Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan; Tennesseans have died and hospitals have closed as a result of those votes. Our uninsured rate continues to rise, and we have had more hospital closures per capita than any other state in America. Tennessee is part of a shrinking minority - one of only 12 states - that has still refused to expand Medicaid and provide coverage to 300,000 more Tennesseans. We are rejecting $1 billion every year from the federal government and paying for other states that care enough about their citizens to cover them. This is one of the easiest things we can do to get to universal health coverage in Tennessee.
Mental Health and Drug Abuse
Substance abuse is a large and ever-growing problem that drives up health care costs, take lives, and eats away at communities. Tragically, Tennessee remains one of the most over-medicated states in the country. There are currently more opioid prescriptions than Tennesseans. Overdose deaths continued to rise in Tennessee even as they fell in neighboring states. Last year was the deadliest year on record for overdose deaths in Davidson County and 2020 is already expected to surpass it. The COVID-19 pandemic is also making things worse.
We’re lucky to have organizations like Centerstone and the Oasis Center nearby. They are saving lives. It’s also encouraging that the Davidson County Drug Court, one of the nation’s first, as well as the new Behavioral Care Center have proven so effective. And I’m proud that new health laws take huge steps toward expanding mental health and substance abuse coverage. But more work needs to be done in this area to make sure outdated rules aren't preventing people from getting help.
Investing in Scientific and Medical Research
Basic science, the seed corn of innovation, is primarily supported by the federal government — not industry, which is typically more interested in applied research and development. But at a time when other countries are increasing investments in science and technology, basic science is at risk. I’ve supported increased NIH funding for years and helped launch national awards to promote major breakthroughs from science and medical research.
I’ve also worked to improve the quality of research. Did you know that current law does not require researchers to study females when conducting basic medical research? Medical science should not discriminate against women or any other demographic group, which is why I introduced the Research for All Act. The bill would require the inclusion and separate analysis of both male and female animals, tissues and cells in basic research at the NIH, an idea that was ultimately incorporated into the agency’s rules.
Links & Additional Resources
Health Care Law - Explore both private and public health coverage options and learn more about the new health care law.
Plan choices for small businesses - A resource on insurance plan choices for small business owners.
Food Safety - Get alerts on life-saving food recalls and helpful tips for keeping food safe, from the trusted source for food safety information.
My Medicare - Medicare's free, secure online service for accessing personalized information regarding your Medicare benefits and services.
Insure Kids - Find Tennessee-specific information about health insurance coverage for children under Medicaid and CoverKids, Tennessee’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Let's Move for Healthier Children - Join America’s move to raise a healthier generation of kids. Tennessee ranks fifth in the nation for overweight or obese children.
Department of Health & Human Sciences - Engage with the HHS as it makes its operations more transparent to the public.
Hospital Compare – Compare hospitals in your area based on patient feedback and quality of care measures.
Nursing Home Comparison – Detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.
Stop Medicare Fraud – Learn how to prevent and report Medicare fraud.
More on Health Care
NASHVILLE – Today Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) commended President Joe Biden’s executive actions to end gun violence by saying: “President Biden’s actions today will undoubtedly save lives, especially here in Middle Tennessee where our governor just signed a bill to allow the carrying of firearms without a permit,” Rep. Cooper said. “The House passed expanded background check bills last month that we still need the Senate to bring up for a vote.”
NASHVILLE – Today Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05), along with United Neighborhood Health Services and Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, announced the award of two grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. United Neighborhood services will receive nearly $5 million and Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center will receive nearly $3 million. The grants are a continuation of funding for operations at the federally qualified health centers.
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Sent Tuesdays and Fridays, the IssueWatch newsletter focuses on easily readable and shareable summary of news on health care, national security, budgetary policy, the environment and other issues of interest to Middle Tennesseans. Find the most recent newsletters below:
WASHINGTON – Last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed an updated version of the HEROES Act to support Americans and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic The $2.2 trillion legislation passed the House by 214-207. Not a single Republican voted for the relief package.
WASHINGTON – Of the three bills that Rep. Jim Cooper has been pushing to help the Nashville tourist economy recover, two are included in the $2.2 trillion relief package that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is offering the White House and the U.S. Senate.
NASHVILLE – At a press conference this morning, Rep. Jim Cooper announced how CARES Act funds were allocated in Davidson, Dickson, and Cheatham Counties. The $2.5 trillion CARES Act is the largest relief bill in U.S. history. It was signed into law in March but there has been little transparency on how funds were distributed within congressional districts despite congressional efforts to monitor the funds.
NASHVILLE – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) released the following statement about the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, H.R. 6800, which is expected to pass the House tonight:
NASHVILLE – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) released the following statement after he voted for the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, H.R. 266, which passed the House today: