House Democrats propose making permanent expanded ObamaCare subsidies

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A patient is shown signing up for ObamaCare insurance in this Nov. 22, 2017, file photo.

House Democrats late Friday night proposed making permanent enhanced ObamaCare subsidies that give people greater help in affording their premiums.

The American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden earlier this year provided larger financial assistance to help with health insurance premiums for Affordable Care Act enrollees but only until 2022.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s proposal released late Friday would make that larger financial assistance permanent as part of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending package.

The enhanced subsidies lower the percentage of income that any ObamaCare enrollee has to pay for health insurance from around 10 percent to 8.5 percent. Notably, the proposal also allows people who make more than 400 percent of the federal poverty limit (about $100,000 for a family of four) to access the financial assistance for their premiums.

Extending this enhanced financial assistance has been a priority of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), though there has been some debate with progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who have prioritized adding dental, hearing and vision benefits to Medicare.

The House bill does not begin Medicare dental benefits until 2028, in part because there is limited money for both the Medicare expansion and making the ACA enhancements permanent.

Previously released sections of the House package would also create a new federal program to expand Medicaid in the 12 GOP-led states that have refused the expansion under the ACA.

study from the Urban Institute released earlier this week found that the Medicaid expansion provision and making the enhanced ACA subsidies permanent would together reduce the number of uninsured people by 7 million, or about one quarter. 

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