CHARLESTON — Health care advocates in West Virginia are calling on Congress to discover a method to lengthen well being insurance subsidies put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier than they expire later this 12 months.
The federal American Rescue Plan Act prolonged eligibility for well being insurance subsidies offered by the Affordable Care Act. The subsidies prolonged to folks buying their very own well being insurance on state-run marketplaces or by way of HealthCare.gov. The subsidies took the type of tax credit to scale back premium prices.
The subsidies are restricted to folks with incomes greater than 400% of the poverty stage. ARPA additionally elevated the greenback quantity for monetary help for low-income people who have been already eligible to obtain well being insurance by way of ACA. But these subsidies expire Jan 1, 2023, until Congress reauthorizes them.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the subsidies saved a person a median of $50 monthly or $85 per coverage monthly, with 4 out of 5 enrollees discovering insurance plans for $10 monthly or much less after the tax credit kicked in.
West Virginia has two well being insurance carriers that take part within the state-operated market: West Virginia Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and CareSource. First Choice Services, the corporate the manages the state’s playing habit, substance abuse, psychological well being, tobacco and suicide prevention hotlines, runs the ACA Navigator program in West Virginia.
Jeremy Smith, this system director for First Choice Services, stated the ARPA well being insurance subsidies have been very useful for individuals who in any other case won’t have been in a position to afford well being insurance.
“I’ve been able to travel the state into every nook and cranny and talk to a lot of different families about health coverage and assist them in the signup process. So, what I’ve seen over the years is that these subsidies are the backbone of this program,” Smith stated. “What I saw in 2021 with the American Rescue Plan enhanced subsidies is that it was a game changer. It made all the difference in the world for people to get affordable health coverage again.”
Chris Walters, the proprietor of the Integrity Insurance Group in Charleston and a former Republican state senator, stated employers have seen a 47% enhance in well being insurance prices during the last 10 years. He stated the ARPA subsidies have given workers another choice for inexpensive insurance.
“Where the subsidies have really come in is allowing those employees to be able to look at other opportunities to get insurance through the exchange and employers to offer benefits in other areas as well,” Walters stated. “This right here gives the ability for employers to point their employees in the right direction to find very affordable coverage and yet to keep them in their workforce in West Virginia.”
Jessie Ice, govt director for West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, stated that there are 23,000 West Virginians who obtain ACA protection within the state-run market, with 18,000 folks dropping their protection if the subsidies expire.
“This is $37.5 million worth of subsidies that we were giving to our people that will be taken away if we do not expand this tax credit and make it permanent,” Ice stated. “Without continuing these enhanced ACA subsidies, West Virginians would likely see a price increase on the marketplace of a staggering 63%.”
Supporters of the subsidies referred to as on U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to make use of their affect to increase the subsidies. Manchin has toyed with doing a smaller model of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan, which subsidy supporters see as a car to increase the ACA tax credit. Ice was not too long ago a part of a Save our Care name with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-M.D., calling on Congress to behave.
“We need our senators to use their power to tell Congress that this is what West Virginia needs,” Ice stated. “West Virginia needs these advanced premium tax credits permanent in our marketplace.”
Steven Allen Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.