The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath has had a devastating impact on many individuals, families, charitable organizations and businesses. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Lung Association has engaged with Congress and the Administration, advocating for policies to protect and improve lung health in the face of unprecedented challenges. The laws and regulations enacted over the past several months, including the American Rescue Plan, have gone a long way toward addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is still much to do as we work on rebuilding our communities.
As vaccination rates increase, we can put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, recover from its devastating impacts and build back stronger than before. The events of the past year have shone a light on many areas in our country that affect lung health that are in desperate need of attention, reform and investment.
Congress is working on legislation to invest and build a healthier future. Ensuring everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare is one of the Lung Association’s top priorities to protect people with or at risk for lung disease. Another is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution as well as prioritizing cleanup in underserved communities, which will lead to fewer asthma attacks, missed school and workdays and premature deaths. Investing in rebuilding our nation is an opportunity to improve healthcare and protect health from climate change and air pollution that Congress—and the nation—cannot afford to miss.
The Lung Association has identified several priorities that we are urging Congress to include to ensure healthier lungs:
Investments in Healthcare to Ensure Quality, Affordable and Accessible Healthcare for All
- Make the two-year expansion of premium subsidies contained within the American Rescue Plan permanent.
- Further increase eligibility for premium subsidies by applying the new definition of affordability for marketplace plans to employer-sponsored plans as well.
- Maximize the impact of policies in the American Rescue Plan designed to expand Medicaid coverage and continue to build upon them, improve the continuity of Medicaid coverage for both children and adults, and remove barriers to treatment so all Medicaid enrollees have access to comprehensive quit smoking treatments.
Investments in Addressing Climate Change and Ensuring Clean Air for All
- Invest in the transition to zero-emission vehicles and heavy-duty equipment.
- Include $20 billion in funding to accelerate the turnover of dirty diesel school buses to healthier, zero-emission buses to better protect kids from harmful pollution.
- Support the nationwide transition to electric vehicles with robust investment in a national charging infrastructure plan (particularly through 30C tax credits).
- Reduce emissions from the nation’s ports by transitioning to zero-emission trucks, cargo equipment and port infrastructure, cleaning up the air for some of the hardest-hit communities.
- Invest in clean, non-combustion renewable electricity
- Set a national clean electricity standard that places health and equity at the forefront and defines “clean” as wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable, non-combustion sources.
- Expand clean energy tax credits to further drive the transition to clean, non-combustion renewable energy. (Expanding direct-pay tax credits is particularly important. Learn more here).
Blog last updated: May 17, 2021