ACA 2.0

This is mostly an updated version of a post from last week, but there's some important new (potential) developments. Via Amy Lotven of Inside Health Policy:

The White House is expected to roll out the health care priorities for its two-part infrastructure package sometime this Spring, and the health piece potentially could move separately now that the Senate parliamentarian has agreed Democrats have another shot passing their priorities through a simple majority. While there appears to be consensus that the bill will expand, or make permanent, the Affordable Care Act tax credits from the American Rescue Plan, other policies are less clear and will likely depend on the amount of offsets lawmakers can glean from drug-pricing measures.

via Amy Lotven and John Wilkerson of Inside Health Policy:

Pelosi: Drug Pricing May Pay For Health Care Pieces Of Infrastructure Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said everything is on the table for the next legislative package that is expected to focus on infrastructure improvements and include health care provisions like a permanent increase to the Affordable Care Act tax credits — and she said the package likely will be paid for by tackling prescription drug prices.

...Pelosi said including House Democrats’ drug pricing bill, H.R.3, would pay for $500 billion of the cost of the infrastructure bill, part of which could be used to boost ACA tax credits and make ACA coverage more affordable. The savings also could also be used for other health-related efforts, she said. For example, House Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) has been working with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) to expand community health centers and to improve broadband services, which would support telehealth.

On Monday I noted that in the wake of the passage and signing of HR 1319 (the American Rescue Plan, or ARP), which includes a dramatic (if time-limited) upgrade & expansion of ACA individual market subsidies, Senate Democrats are hard at work pushing for several other important bills to make President Biden's larger healthcare policy vision a reality on a permanent basis.

The three bills I discussed in Part 1 are:

  • Sen. Mark Warner's Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 (S.352)
  • Sen. Michael Bennet & Sen. Tim Kaine's re-introduced "Medicare X" Act (S.386, I believe)
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's Improving Health Care Affordability Act (S.499)

Of the three, the one which seems most likely to actually have a shot at passing both the House and Senate and being signed into law by President Biden during the 2021 - 2022 legislative session is Sen. Shaheen's S.499, which would:

On Monday I noted that in the wake of the passage and signing of HR 1319 (the American Rescue Plan, or ARP), which includes a dramatic (if time-limited) upgrade & expansion of ACA individual market subsidies, Senate Democrats are hard at work pushing for several other important bills to make President Biden's larger healthcare policy vision a reality on a permanent basis.

The three bills I discussed in Part 1 are:

  • Sen. Mark Warner's Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 (S.352)
  • Sen. Michael Bennet & Sen. Tim Kaine's re-introduced "Medicare X" Act (S.386, I believe)
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's Improving Health Care Affordability Act (S.499)

Of the three, the one which seems most likely to actually have a shot at passing both the House and Senate and being signed into law by President Biden during the 2021 - 2022 legislative session is Sen. Shaheen's S.499, which would:

Back in late January, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia announced the introduction of a new-ish bill called the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021. Tell me if any of the major provisions look familiar:

  • Capping health care costs on the ACA exchanges
  • Establishing a low-cost public health care option
  • Authorizing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices
  • Allowing insurers to offer health care coverage across state boundaries
  • Supporting state-run reinsurance programs
  • Incentivizing states to expand Medicaid
  • Expanding Medicaid eligibility for new moms
  • Simplifying enrollment
  • Increasing Medicaid funding for states with high levels of unemployment
  • Reducing burdens on small businesses

This afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office released their 10-year "score" report of the largest single chunk of the House Democrats version of the American Rescue Plan from the Ways & Means Committee:

Legislation Summary

S. Con. Res. 5, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2021, instructed several committees of the House of Representatives to recommend legislative changes that would increase deficits up to a specified amount over the 2021-2030 period. As part of this reconciliation process, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved legislation on February 10 and 11, 2021, with a number of provisions that would increase deficits. The legislation would extend unemployment benefits, establish a pandemic emergency fund, increase subsidies for health insurance, provide cash payments to eligible people, expand several tax credits, and modify rules for pensions, among other provisions designed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus.

Earlier this evening, the House Ways & Means Committee formally published the markup of nine legislative provisions which, if they all survive the process, will make up roughly half of President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, aka the American Rescue Plan:

The Ways and Means’ proposals comprise half of the $1.9 trillion Democratic COVID-19 relief package

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) announced the Committee will consider nine legislative proposals under the budget reconciliation instructions this week as the next step in delivering COVID-19 relief to the American people. Beginning on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. through Friday, February 12, 2021, the Committee will markup proposals spanning from extending unemployment insurance to expanding the child tax credit to delivering another round of direct assistance to struggling Americans.

The other day I posted a detailed look at just how much various households could save in premiums if H.R. 369, Rep. Lauren Underwood's Health Care Affordability Act of 2021, were to be passed and signed into law by President Biden. I used 8 different household examples, and based the savings on the national average 2021 benchmark premium for a single 40-year old, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The households I used include:

UPDATE: Everything below refers to HR 369, but the American Rescue Plan, HR 1319, contains a virtually identical expansion of ACA subsidies...if only for two years.

Note that under HR 1319 (AmRescuePlan), the first year would be retroactive, meaning that current ACA enrollees should receive additional subsidies dating back to January 2021, though I don't know what form that will take...rebate checks, credit towards future premiums or an extra tax refund next spring.

Over the past couple of years, one of the things I've become known for is my obsessive fixation on visually displaying how much various households would save on healthcare premiums if various ACA subsidy-boosting bills were passed compared with the current ACA subsidy structure.

Back on January 14th, I noted that President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes a couple of interesting ACA-specific provisions:

Roughly two to three million people lost employer sponsored health insurance between March and September, and even families who have maintained coverage may struggle to pay premiums and afford care. Further, going into this crisis, 30 million people were without coverage, limiting their access to the health care system in the middle of a pandemic. To ensure access to health coverage, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to subsidize continuation health coverage (COBRA) through the end of September. He is also asking Congress to expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit to lower or eliminate health insurance premiums and ensure enrollees - including those who never had coverage through their jobs - will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage.

Together, these policies would reduce premiums for more than ten million people and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by millions more.

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