As President Biden’s pandemic relief package steams through Congress, Democrats have hitched a ride for a top health care priority: strengthening the Affordable Care Act with some of the most significant changes to insurance affordability in more than a decade.
The bill would spend $34 billion to help Americans who buy insurance on the health plan marketplaces created by the ACA through 2022, when the benefits would expire. The Senate sent its relief package, one of the largest in congressional history, back to the House, where it could come up as early as Tuesday and where it is expected to pass and then go to Biden for his signature.
Those who have studied the legislation say it would throw a lifeline to lower- and middle-income Americans who have fallen through the cracks of the government’s eligibility requirements for ACA subsidies. Stephanie Salazar-Rodriguez of Denver, for instance, is hopeful the changes the federal bill includes will make a difference. Without those changes, she expects to spend more than $10,000 on premiums this year after losing her primary job — and her health insurance — last month.