Congress Can Help Make Affordable Health Care a Reality

Activist, drag artist, and City Council hopeful Marti Gould Cummings.
Marti Allen-Cummings is urging lawmakers to prioritize health coverage for gig workers and others who rely on the marketplace for care.
Donna Aceto

Access to affordable health care is personal. For too long, people living on the margins, particularly those in the performing arts and LGBTQIA+ community, have not had access to the coverage they deserve. Thankfully, Congress acted earlier this year to make health care more accessible by enhancing marketplace tax credits in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

However, these subsidies will expire at the end of 2022 unless Congress acts now. If that happens, enrollees could see their premiums double, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a price that’s too high for anyone to pay.

I come from a vibrant community of gig workers. Since we do not receive health care through an employer, we rely on the federal marketplace to purchase coverage. Without these tax credits, countless gig workers could face the difficult decision to forego coverage due to cost. Again, this is too high a price to pay.

The restaurant, tourism, and entertainment industries were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Drag entertainers like myself rely on bookings in crowded bars and restaurants as a primary source of income. When the city shut down, so did much of our work. As we begin our financial recovery with the rest of our New York communities, we cannot afford increased health care expenses.

With the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, these health insurance subsidies can be made permanent in the current reconciliation package making its way through Congress. I call on Senator Schumer to continue to be a strong voice for workers like myself and fight for access to affordable care.