By Elise Viebeck - 02/04/14 01:51 PM EST
A new Democratic bill would widen access to ObamaCare's tax subsidies by tying the credits to regional cost of living instead of to the federal poverty level.
California Reps. Mike Thompson (D) and Anna Eshoo (D) argued Tuesday that their measure would assist deserving patients in high-cost areas whose incomes otherwise disqualify them from receiving a discount on their health insurance.
"Some hardworking families in high-cost areas like ours don't qualify for subsidies and therefore can't get affordable insurance. This bill will help make affordable health insurance a reality, no matter where someone lives."
The Affordable Care Act currently provides tax subsidies for people buying health insurance individually if they earn between 138 and 400 percent of the poverty level. The upper threshold is $45,960 for an individual, and $94,200 for a family of four.
The Thompson-Eshoo bill would increase this threshold proportionally based on a region's cost of living above the national average. ObamaCare already includes similar adjustments for Hawaii and Alaska.