Sen. Raphael Warnock’s proposal to provide a federal alternative to Medicaid expansion may have stalled, but he is hoping that the Inflation Reduction Act will be able to help Americans not currently eligible for tax breaks on their insurance or for Medicaid.
“We were trying to create a federal look-alike program for Medicaid,” Warnock told the USA Today network. “That’s not what I’m offering in this bill. I’m saying let’s extend the (Affordable Care Act) tax credits to the working poor who are in the coverage gap the same way we’re extending it to others.”
The law as proposed would extend tax credits on healthcare premiums through the Affordable Care Act, but these credits currently are only available to people making more than 100% of the federal poverty line. In most states, people are eligible for Medicaid coverage up to 138% of the poverty line, but in Georgia and 11 other states Medicaid has not been expanded to cover all of those residents.
As written, Warnock’s office said the extension of the current tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act would not cover those in the coverage gap between Medicaid and the ACA tax credits. But Warnock said he hopes the final bill will.
“In as much as we extended the ACA tax credits to make sure people on the Affordable Care Act don’t lose their healthcare, to me it only makes sense to extend those same tax credits to people who are in the coverage gap,” he said.
In Georgia, only children under 19, low-income parents of those children, pregnant Georgians, and those on Social Security Disability are eligible for Medicaid. Others are not, no matter how low their incomes.
Warnock, backed by fellow Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, proposed the Medicaid workaround in the now-dead Build Back Better Act.
The Medicaid-like insurance plan for the 12 non-expansion states would have been run through the healthcare exchange set up by the ACA. Those who qualify in non-expansion states would have been able to go to the healthcare marketplace and purchase the plan, which would have no premium.
Warnock has also been working on a proposal to cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month out of pocket for those with diabetes, and has managed to get it included in the Inflation Reduction Act.
“My provision, which would cap the cost of insulin to $35 of out of pocket cost per month will be in the base language of the bill,” Warnock said.
Politico has reported that Republicans may try to argue to the Senate parliamentarian, who reviews the legislation to see if it falls within the chambers rules, that the insulin proposal is not eligible to be included in the Inflation Reduction Act. If that is the case, rather than passing on a 50-vote majority the proposal would face a 60-vote majority, requiring 10 Republicans to support the Democratic proposal.
“There will be give and take, back and forth, and we’ll see where the parliamentarian lands, not only on this but on a whole range of provisions,” Warnock said.
The Inflation Reduction Act was formed through a compromise between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin after Manchin refused to support a prior proposal, the Build Back Better Act.
Voting on the bill will likely start later this week.
Thank you so much for supporting Jon Ossoff’s Senate campaign.
Thank you so much for supporting Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign.