Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill aimed at dramatically increasing the affordability and reliability of health care coverage

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at dramatically increasing the affordability and reliability of health insurance plans available on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

The legislation, called the Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act, would offer people buying health insurance on their own more financial assistance ― and allow more people to qualify for that assistance. Nobody would have to pay more than 8.5 percent of income on premiums.

Warren does not envision this new plan as an alternative to more ambitious proposals. She remains a co-sponsor of the single-payer legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., attends a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled 'Foreign Cyber Threats to the United States,' featuring testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others, January 5, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Armed Services Committee members (L-R) Sen. Martin Heinrich (D - NM), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) talk during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. The intelligence chiefs testified to the committee about cyber threats to the United States and fielded questions about effects of Russian government hacking on the 2016 presidential election.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) (L) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) arrive for a hearing with the Director of National Intelligence and National Security Agency chief in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. The intelligence chiefs testified to the committee about cyber threats to the United States and fielded questions about effects of Russian government hacking on the 2016 presidential election.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Democratic Nominee for President of the United States former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), speaks to and meets New England voters during a rally at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday October 24, 2016.

(Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Mark Wahlberg, Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner Billy Evans, Former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, Dun 'Danny' Meng, Jessica Downes, Patrick Downes, Senator Elizabeth Warren, director Peter Berg and Harvard Law professor Bruce Mann pose on the red carpet at the 'Patriots Day' screening at the Boch Center Wang Theatre on December 14, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

(Photo by Natasha Moustache/WireImage)

Democratic Nominee for President of the United States former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), speaks to and meets New England voters during a rally at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday October 24, 2016.

(Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Red Sox player David Ortiz talks with Senator Elizabeth Warren at the 'Patriots Day' screening at the Boch Center Wang Theatre on December 14, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

(Photo by Natasha Moustache/WireImage)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren hold a rally at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH on Oct. 24, 2016.

(Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Manchester 'New Hampshire Together' Canvass Launch event in Manchester, NH on Sept. 24, 2016.

(Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren speaks onstage at EMILY's List Breaking Through 2016 at the Democratic National Convention at Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images For EMILY's List)

US Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, holds up copies of Wells Fargo earnings call transcripts as she questions John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, as he testifies about the unauthorized opening of accounts by Wells Fargo during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 20, 2016.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) along with members of the Democratic Women of the Senate acknowledge the crowd on the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25.

(Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) delivers remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III welcomes Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on stage on Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accompanied by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to and meets Ohio voters during a rally at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, June 27, 2016.

(Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airing live, Thursday July 21, 2016 in New York. With guest Elizabeth Warren .

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) arrives in the Capitol for the on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (R) meets with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (L), chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court, April 14, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Garland continued to place visits to Senate members after he was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, listens as Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, testifies during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. Yellen offered a subtle change to her outlook from less than a week ago, saying she and her colleagues were on watch for whether, rather than when, the U.S. economy would show clear signs of improvement.

(Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., greets guests during a rally on the east lawn of the Capitol to urge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to hold a vote on the 'Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act,' March 9, 2016. The legislation would provide a one time payment to seniors, veterans and other SSI recipients who will not get a cost-of-living adjustment this year.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators Bob Corker (L) and Elizabeth Warren (R) speak before a Senate Banking Committee on the semiannual monetary report to Congress hearing in Washington, USA on February 11, 2016.

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), talks with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in the House chamber prior to President Obama's State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013.

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But as Warren made clear in a January speech before the consumer group Families USA, she understands that enacting a single-payer plan would be difficult ― and that, as a result, private insurance probably won’t disappear overnight. And so she also wants to focus on what can be done right away to subject the industry to the type of stringent consumer protections she has already successfully championed in the financial sector.

“So long as private health insurance exists, we should require these companies to provide coverage that is at least as good and priced as reasonably as the coverage offered by our public health care programs,” Warren said in January.

Sanders is actually a co-sponsor of the Warren bill, as are Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.).

Baldwin’s presence is particularly noteworthy as she faces a tough re-election battle this November in a state that Donald Trump won.

The consumer advocacy organizations Families USA, Public Citizen, Consumers Union and Community Catalyst have also endorsed Warren’s bill.

“So long as private health insurance exists, we should require these companies to provide coverage that is at least as good and priced as reasonably as the coverage offered by our public health care programs."Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in January.

The legislation consists of policies that try to achieve four major goals: increase insurance affordability; provide consumers with new protections; safeguard the ACA from Trump administration attempts to unravel it; and ensure private insurers’ participation in the ACA marketplaces. Some of the provisions apply to all private insurance plans, including employer-sponsored coverage, while others fall on ACA plans alone.

In the affordability category, which features the biggest changes to the health care system, Warren would increase the subsidies available to Americans buying health insurance plans on the ACA’s marketplaces. Currently, low- and middle-income individuals buying ACA plans for themselves and their families are entitled to subsidies offsetting their premiums that are based on the cost of the “silver,” or second-least expensive plans.

The subsidies get steadily smaller as a person’s household income approaches 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Above that income threshold, which is $48,560 for an individual and $100,400 for a family of four, ACA marketplace consumers are not entitled to any federal help.

As a result, some middle-class consumers buying their coverage on the ACA marketplaces have taken a major financial hit from rising monthly premiums in the ACA plans.

By switching to a system where premiums are capped as a percentage of income, Warren would insure that no household is without protection from premium increases. Basing the subsidies on the cost of the more expensive “gold” plans would also allow families to buy more generous coverage at the same cost or stick with a less generous plan and pocket the savings.

Another feature of Warren’s bill aimed at enhancing affordability is a provision capping out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs at $250 per month that would apply to all private plans. Since the clause targets a small subset of consumers with exceptionally high drug costs, and ACA consumers are already protected with an annual cap on out-of-pocket spending, the number of people who would save money from the provision is likely minor but still significant.

The legislation would also introduce new rules designed to protect consumers from insurance plans that prove unreliable and inadequate. All private insurance plans would be required to spend 85 percent of their premium dollars on paying out insurance claims ― subjecting them to a tighter standard than the one that already applies to ACA plans. They would also be barred from changing the kinds of drugs that they cover in the middle of the year, as well as how much of those drugs’ costs are born by consumers.

Consumers would also be shielded from the effects of an insurer dropping a plan during their course of treatment. And insurers would have to notify consumers if a plan no longer covered a particular doctor.

The bill’s provisions protecting the ACA from Trump administration sabotage include increased funding for outreach and education about enrollment in ACA plans, and tightening rules requiring coverage of “essential” health benefits, which the administration is trying to water down. Like other bipartisan legislation under serious consideration in Congress, Warren’s bill would also reinstate the federal government’s cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which subsidize limitations on out-of-pocket costs for low- and middle-income consumers. (Trump discontinued them in October.)

Finally, Warren would “call [the insurers’] bluff” by requiring insurance companies that bid on Medicare Advantage and Medicaid contracts to offer plans on the ACA marketplaces in parts of the country with limited insurance industry competition. New York already has a similar regulation in place.

Since Warren’s bill has not yet been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, it is not clear how much it would cost. The most expensive part of the legislation is the component increasing subsidies for ACA marketplace plans.

A 2015 Urban Institute study that assessed the cost of a plan with several similar features, including switching to a gold plan benchmark for subsidies, found that it would cost $221 billion over a 10-year period.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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