More Americans will become eligible for subsidies to buy individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act if Nancy Pelosi gets her way.
The new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said this weekend she wants changes in the income threshold to allow more Americans to gain subsidies so they can buy individual coverage known as Obamacare. Helping more people get subsides are among the “couple of things” she would like to do to improve the ACA and expand health coverage to more Americans, Pelosi, a California Democrat, told MSNBC Friday night.
“Raise the income level at which people can get subsidies so more people would be able to get the subsidies,” Pelosi told MSNBC’s Joy Reid in an exclusive interview that aired Friday night and this past weekend. “I think that’s very, very important.”
By expanding the pool of Americans who gain subsidies, that’s good news for insurers Centene, Molina Healthcare, Oscar Health, Bright Health, Cigna, Anthem and other Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that have remained in the business of selling ACA-compliant individual coverage.
Whether the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate would go along with such legislation in the Democratic House is unclear. But it’s a signal that Democrats in the House under Pelosi plan to do more than just defend the ACA and its patient protections against Republican attacks and efforts to repeal or gut the law.
Exactly what the income threshold would be raised to is unclear. Pelosi didn’t disclose further details in her MSNBC interview. Hearings, though, are expected on the ACA in several Congressional committees.
For 2019 coverage, single Americans may be eligible for tax credits to lower their premium if their annual “2019 income is between $ 12,140 to $ 48,560″ or if their “household income is between $ 20,780 to $ 83,120 for a family of three,” the Kaiser Family Foundation says.
Pelosi’s disclosure came less than 48 hours after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services showed more than 8.4 million people signed up for the ACA’s coverage via the federal health insurance exchange. That compares to 8.7 million people who had enrolled at the same time last year, CMS said. The figures don’t include those who signed up in states including California and New York that operate their own exchanges.
“We are very proud of the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said in her MSNBC interview. “It was a generational opportunity to establish a pillar of economic and health security on a par with Social Security, Medicare (and) Medicaid. And a path to making sure everyone has access to affordable quality health care in our country.”