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February 9, 2021

The following alert is from The Council’s government affairs team.

House Democrats yesterday laid out their proposal to subsidize health insurance premiums for coverage as part of President Biden’s broader stimulus push to help individuals who lost their jobs keep their health insurance coverage.

Of most interest to The Council are provisions that would temporarily e​​​​xtend COBRA subsidies and expand ACA subsidies for the first time in over a decade.

The proposal, unveiled by the leaders of the Ways and Means Committee, would include among other things:

  • Fully subsidize ACA coverage for people earning up to 150% of the federal poverty level, as well as those on unemployment insurance, for two years.
  • End the subsidy cliff, qualifying enrollees who make over 400% of the federal poverty level subsidies for the first time, for two years.
  • Cover 85% of the cost of private health insurance for those laid off during the pandemic, through September 21.

The provisions are expected to be folded into Democrats’ broader aid package and represent a first step toward fulfilling President Biden’s promise to expand Obamacare.

Other notable measures:

  • Extend a $400/week unemployment insurance payment through August 29.
  • Issue $1,400 payments at the $75,000 income threshold. This round of payments would total $422 billion. This time around, children and adult dependents would be eligible for the full $1,400. Those adult dependents, including disabled adults and college students, haven’t been previously eligible.
  • Provide $130 billion in funding for K-12 schools, $40 billion for colleges and universities and $39 billion for child-care providers. Mr. Biden has also proposed offering funds for vaccine distribution, unemployment programs and state and local governments, among other measures.
  • Increase the minimum-wage to $15/hour.
  • Increase in the child tax credit for 2021 only, offering $3,000 per child and $3,600 for children under age 6. In addition, parents of 17-year-olds would be eligible. The credit would be fully refundable, which means households can get the full benefit even if they have no income or owe no income taxes.

What’s next? House Democrats plan to advance the American Rescue Act using budget reconciliation, which will allow the bill to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass with a simple majority in that chamber. Senate Democrats have yet to unveil their version of the bill.

What does it mean? Democrats’ new control of the White House and Congress gives them the opportunity to make changes to strengthen the ACA, and the pandemic has provided added urgency to those agenda items.

Click here for the Ways and Means Committee COVID-19 relief measures.

We will keep you apprised of forthcoming developments.