President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan today. This $1.9 trillion stimulus package not only addresses the on-going covid-19 pandemic, but significantly invests in public health programs and directly lowers health care costs for millions of Americans.
“The American Rescue Plan contains some of the most pro-patient provisions in over a decade,” said Alan Balch, PhD, CEO of the National Patient Advocate Foundation. “We need direct solutions to our country’s ongoing economic and health care inequities, and this legislation is a promising signal for how the Administration plans to address these issues.”
The new law ends the so-called “subsidy cliff” by capping the amount anyone would pay for a Marketplace silver plan at 8.5% of their income. Previously, someone who made over 400% FPL would have received no subsidies at all, meaning they could have been paying 20, 30 or even 50% of their income towards their health insurance. For those already getting subsidized coverage, the bill dramatically reduces premium costs, enabling those with incomes up to 150% FPL to enroll in a silver plan at no cost.
The American Rescue Plan will also treat anyone who receives unemployment benefits in 2021 as if they make 133% of FPL for purposes of financial assistance, making them eligible for at least one $0 premium plan option as well as cost sharing reductions for OOP costs. Off the Marketplace, the new law will cover 100% of the COBRA premium for anyone who lost their job and wants to maintain their previous coverage through the end of September.
The new legislation will also:
- Provide direct stimulus payments to 85% of American households, with $1,400 for working class individuals making up to $75,000 (couples up to $150,000) and additional payments of $1,400 for each dependent, including college students and adults with disabilities;
- Extend supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 per week for another 25 weeks, through September 6;
- Make the full Child Tax Credit available to 27 million children in families with low or no income, raise the maximum credit from $2,000 to $3,000, increase it to $3,600 for kids ages 5 years old or younger, and extend the credit to 17-year-olds;
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for people without children from about $540 to about $1,500 and extend income eligibility;
- Provide housing assistance to millions of Americans who are struggling to pay their rent, utilities or mortgage payments by providing $21.6 billion in emergency rental assistance for low-income renters, $5 billion for the unhoused and millions more for other housing programs;
- Extend nutrition assistance to the 24 million adults and 11 million children who currently suffer from food insecurity through a 15% increase in SNAP benefits