As millions of Americans have lost their jobs and employer-based benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is announcing expanded health care benefits for New Yorkers in the recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP) and urging New Yorkers to sign up for health care through the New York State of Health Marketplace exchange. The bill includes new premium savings in Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) Assistance to newly unemployed Americans, expands Affordable Care Act (ACA) and state health insurance exchange benefits, and grants forgiveness to 2020 miscalculations on advance tax credits.
“Every person should have access to health care in the midst of a public health crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The federal government will now cover the cost of COBRA health care premiums so unemployed individuals can keep their current health care plan and doctors at an affordable rate. I am also urging New Yorkers to explore expanded options in the New York State of Health Marketplace. I am proud to deliver this critical assistance in the American Rescue Plan to make health care more accessible and affordable during this unprecedented time.”
The COBRA provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its mirror regulation in NYS allows people who have been laid off from their jobs to continue purchasing their health care plan after their former employer terminates coverage. Until the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan, COBRA premiums were often costly, sometimes costing an individual up to 102% of the entire premium cost. Under the recently Senate-passed relief bill, Americans are now eligible for premium savings as the federal government will cover the entire cost of COBRA premiums. For more information on COBRA coverage, follow this link at HealthCare.gov. For more information on COBRA coverage in NYS, follow this link at dfs.nys.gov.
The bill also contains a number of provisions that boost ACA and state exchange premiums and subsidies, including for NYS. One provision would increase the amount of advance premium tax credits available to help pay for insurance plans purchased through the ACA and state’s insurance exchanges. Now, over 200,000 New Yorkers buying health insurance through the New York State of Health Marketplace will be eligible for a higher amount of monthly premium assistance which will substantially reduce their monthly health care costs. The bill would reduce that premium to zero. Additionally, the ARA would eliminate a “subsidy cliff,” which abruptly stops subsidies for people making over 400% of the poverty level, and instead limits the percentage of income higher earners pay toward their premium to 8.5%, resulting in a gradual decrease in the subsidy as income rises.
Additionally, the bill addresses miscalculations that may have occurred at the beginning of 2020 when taxpayers had to estimate their coming year’s income in order to calculate advance tax credit. Due to the rising unemployment rate throughout the pandemic, a “repayment holiday” provision will forgive excess credit received as a result of miscalculated income and will allow people to continue claiming additional credits.