The American Rescue Plan Act Protects Healthcare for Impacted Workers, Expands Access to Care through the ACA, Establishes Nationwide Vaccine Program, and More
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released detailed information on how the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319) will help defeat the virus and support working Americans by protecting and expanding access to quality health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and by establishing a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine program. The American Rescue Plan Act originated in the House of Representatives, and includes the House’s original provisions to commit more than $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccination program, to extend subsidies making health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace much more affordable, to cover premiums through COBRA for workers who lost employer-sponsored coverage, and more.
The House crafted the American Rescue Plan Act and first voted to pass it on February 27th, 2021. Today, the House voted to authorize the bill once and for all, sending it to President Biden’s desk for signature.
“We haven’t outpaced the damage that COVID-19 has caused—hundreds of thousands of Americans are still losing their jobs, their employer-sponsored care, and their access to health coverage during this pandemic,” said Courtney. “The House just voted to send the American Rescue Plan Act to President Biden’s desk for signature, and our bill will get people the coverage they need to stay connected so that they don’t lose their hospitals and doctors at a time when they need them most. Our bill increases COBRA subsidies so that laid-off and impacted workers will be able to keep their old plans free of charge, and for two years it significantly increases and expands premium tax credits for the ACA exchange health plans, keeping the cost of care down and eliminating the FPL cliff that caused many families’ insurance costs to skyrocket unexpectedly.
“The American Rescue Plan is a bold response to a totally unprecedented and economically existential threat that cannot be met with half-measures. Our bill will seriously ramp-up the federal response with a nationwide vaccine program, and with provisions that protect and expand healthcare for our most vulnerable citizens.”
The American Rescue Plan Act takes bold action to protect public health amid the pandemic, and to finally establish a coordinated national vaccination program to improve the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide. Among its many provisions, the bill:
Takes Aggressive Action to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccinations and Protect Public Health
- The American Rescue Plan Act commits $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccination program and to improve the administration and distribution of vaccinations nationwide, including $7.5 billion for the CDC to prepare, monitor and track COVID-19 vaccines, and $7.5 billion for FEMA to establish vaccination sites across the country.
- H.R. 1319 will provide $51 billion to implement a national strategy for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation; and the manufacturing, procurement, distribution, and administration of tests, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies necessary for administration of the tests.
- H.R. 1319 funds Defense Production Act activities to close the gap in domestic manufacturing to fulfill U.S. public health needs. The bill provides $10 billion to boost domestic production of critical PPE, secure supply chains and increased capacity for vital vaccine production, and to help onshore production of rapid COVID-19 tests.
Expands Access to Quality Healthcare through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace
- The bill includes the House’s provision to significantly increase Premium Tax Credits for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange health plans for two years. It will also extend ACA subsidies to those who do not currently qualify, eliminating the 400% Federal Poverty Line cliff. Under the American Rescue Plan Act:
- A family of four with an annual income of $40,000 would save nearly $1,600 annually.
- A family of four with an annual income of $65,000 would save $2,800 annually.
- A family of four with an annual income of $100,000, who previously did not qualify for premium subsidies, would save $7,000 annually.
- Americans of all income levels purchasing health insurance through the ACA Marketplaces would be guaranteed to spend no more than 8.5% of their income coverage.
- Individuals who receive federal Unemployment Insurance in 2021 will receive the highest possible premium tax credit regardless of their income that year.
- For individuals who had fluctuating incomes throughout 2020, they will be held harmless if they received subsidies and, when reconciling their incomes and filing their taxes, realized their income was too high to receive subsidized ACA coverage.
- Following President Biden’s directive, Access Health CT opened up a new Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Connecticut residents. The SEP began on February 15 and will remain open through April 15, 2021. Access Health is enrolling patients not currently enrolled in health coverage through AHCT.
- Eligible enrollees are: uninsured, lost coverage, or qualify for a life event
- Individuals can learn more at AccessHealthCT.com or by calling 844-805-4325 to talk to an enrollment specialist
Protects Health Care for Americans Who Lost Jobs, or Lost Employer-Sponsored Care
- For workers who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, the bill provides a 100% subsidy to pay for COBRA employer-sponsored health benefits so workers can continue their coverage and stay connected to their doctors and providers. The COBRA subsidy increase is available through September 30, 2021.
- This provision will ensure that employees who lost their jobs will pay nothing to continue their employer-sponsored plans.
- Under the bill, if an individual declined COBRA at the time they lost their job, or if they elected to cancel their COBRA coverage, they can still sign up and receive the 100% subsidy for the duration of their coverage period.
For more information on the House’s American Rescue Plan Act, click here. Throughout the week, Rep. Courtney will continue to provide detailed information on the rescue plan’s support for eastern Connecticut towns and cities, for working Americans and families, local schools, small businesses and non-profits, and more.