Keynote: A Conversation with Senator Chris Van Hollen

At the 2021 Maryland State of Reform Health Policy, US Senator Chris Van Hollen provided an update on Maryland’s economic recovery and the health policy conversations taking place in his caucus and in the Senate Budget Committee.

In the near term, Van Hollen is focused on securing health reforms in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

 

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When asked where he stood on the intraparty conversation taking place among Democrats about whether to build on the Affordable Care Act or go beyond it, Van Hollen said he favored the latter.

“I think we should ultimately get to a Medicare for All type system. But the question is how? What’s the fastest to path to actually getting there given the politics in the Senate and the rules of the Senate. I think right now we need to be focused on creating a public option, a Medicare type option, within the Affordable Care Act. I think we need to be extending the increased premium tax credit support, included in the American Rescue Plan, and extending that out permanently, as President Biden has proposed.”

For 2021-2022, the cap has been lifted on eligibility for premium tax credits. The cap had been at 400% of the poverty line, but that was lifted to provide that “no family should [spend] more than 8.5% of their income on the cost of health care coverage.” The American Families Plan proposes to extend that permanently.

Van Hollen thinks the federal government should provide coverage for people in states that have not opted into Medicaid expansion and he supports lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50. These measures amount to a progression toward a “universal Medicare-type-all” approach, Van Hollen said.

Listen to the rest of Van Hollen’s comments above or here.