“Our message is simple: No insured person should be underinsured. The Biden administration can make simple but important and long overdue changes to improve essential health benefits coverage for millions of people across the country.” – Emily Stewart


July 20, 2023

Contact: Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208, jcardinal@communitycatalyst.org 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Led by Community Catalyst, more than 50 groups today launched a campaign urging the Biden administration to expand coverage of Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), which have not been updated since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law 13 years ago. The groups are calling on the Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to close gaps and inconsistencies, and adopt several health care services into the EHB framework, including oral health care, expanding maternity and postpartum care, gender affirming care, and behavioral health and substance use disorder benefits. Doing so would advance equity amongst communities that disproportionately face barriers to care due to racism, classism and other forms of oppression.

You can see the full letter, and all the signers, here: https://commcat.io/EHBs-sign-on

“Our message is simple: No insured person should be underinsured. The Biden administration can make simple but important and long overdue changes to improve essential health benefits coverage for millions of people across the country,” said Community Catalyst Executive Director Emily Stewart. “As more people come to count on EHB coverage standards, the Biden administration can build on its commitment to advancing health equity by improving benefits to ensure coverage allows everyone to get the care they want and need — without going into debt.” 

Among the list of actions, the groups are calling for:

  1. Expanded dental coverage for adults, which would help address the medical debt crisis due to high out of pocket costs and the predatory promotion of deferred interest credit cards in dental offices;
  2. Setting a national standard for maternity care, which will help address the Black material health crisis and ensure that all people, no matter where they live, can access comprehensive and culturally appropriate care;
  3. Prioritizing protections for gender-affirming care, which would provide greater clarity and protections for transgender and nonbinaryindividuals that are at heightened risk for discrimination; and,
  4. Requiring transparency and accountability within behavioral health and substance use disorder benefits, which often require unnecessary or restrictive prior authorizations and are some of the most commonly denied services despite the rising need.

Furthermore, the groups are urging HHS to establish a permanent, regular process to review EHBs that centers the voices and needs of communities who experience vast racial and economic health disparities due to long-standing and systemic barriers to accessing care. This would include listening to a broad and diverse group of people enrolled in Marketplace plans and Medicaid expansion programs — both groups of people who experience the benefits and limitations of EHB standards. The equity built into the policies recommended by this coalition will go far in empowering communities to shape policy that impacts their health.

People across the country face mounting medical and dental debt for uncovered or undercovered services or forgo critical treatment that are outside their coverage. As insurance companies and state legislatures continue to pare down coverage, Community Catalyst and partners are working to ensure that all people, regardless of race, class or place, have what they want and need to be healthy. 

Learn more about EHB’s here: https://communitycatalyst.org/resource/essential-health-benefits-gaps-and-inconsistencies

And more from Emily Stewart here: https://medium.com/@estewart_40167/no-insured-person-should-be-underinsured-the-biden-administration-can-make-four-simple-but-4265dd207445


About Community Catalyst:

Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for race equity and health justice. We partner with local, state and national advocates to leverage and build power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, state houses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit http://www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth