Social distancing measures and commerce restrictions have cost Americans more than 26 million jobs, and with nearly 180 million people relying on employer-sponsored health plans, swelling unemployment could hurt health systems' ability to address the COVID-19 surge.
That's the message from numerous industry organizations — including the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association — in an April 28 letter to congressional leaders. The letter was signed by 31 healthcare groups, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to creating financial and emotional stress, loss of healthcare coverage will "reduce resources available to the healthcare system at a time where providers must increase capacity to address the COVID-19 surge, and stymie public health interventions that require routine engagement between individuals and the healthcare system," the organizations warned.
Their letter asked Congress to prioritize maintaining private health benefits and to increase coverage options for the uninsured in the next round of legislation for COVID-19 relief.
Specifically, the organizations requested that the government give employers temporary subsidies to preserve health benefits; offset healthcare coverage costs through the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, commonly known as COBRA; expand the use of Health Savings Accounts; create a special enrollment period for health insurance marketplaces; and expand eligibility for federal subsidies to increase access to individual market coverage.
"These immediate actions will help stabilize the economy, support employers across the country and secure quality healthcare coverage for millions of Americans," the letter stated.
Click here to read the full document.