Published: 7/24/2022 8:22:23 PM

Access to affordable health care has become more important than ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As inflation now plagues our country and costs for everything are on the rise, Americans are being forced to choose between health care and other necessities, like gas and groceries. These are terrible choices — and our representatives have the opportunity to bring some relief by protecting access to affordable health care.

Health care subsidies created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and temporarily expanded in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) have given nearly six million Americans new access to affordable care options for the first time. Without urgent congressional action, these subsidies will expire at the end of the year. If that happens, Americans will see increased premiums, pricing many of them out of the marketplace altogether.

I am proud to serve as the chairperson of the Board for All Out Adventures (AOA) — an outdoor recreation organization that encourages people of all abilities to participate in adventure programs. Many participants rely on their health insurance for life-changing treatments and services they would not otherwise be able to afford. I am concerned that participants might not be able to afford even AOA’s subsidized rates for participation in programs if they must pay more for basic health insurance. These premium increases would dramatically impact families here and across the country.

We’re fortunate to have House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal who has long been a champion for access to affordable health care as our representative. We desperately need him to take action to make health insurance subsidies permanent now, before Congress leaves for its August recess. If Congress doesn’t act, 42,900 newly eligible Bay Staters could lose their coverage. We cannot disregard the needs of thousands of families by letting the subsidies expire.

Elizabeth Martin, of Easthampton, is a speech-language pathologist at Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital. She serves as the chairperson of the Board for All Out Adventures, a non-profit organization that promotes health, community, and independence for people with disabilities and their family and friends through outdoor recreation.