At press time, President Joe Biden had just signed the $1.9 trillion H.R. 1319, better known as the American Rescue Plan, into law. This clears the way for enhanced unemployment benefits, direct cash and other relief to millions of Americans.
Anti-poverty and unemployment experts heralded the plan and said the $1,400 checks that up to 85%of Americans could receive — as well as the extension of the $300 per-week extra unemployment benefitsthrough Sept. 5 and an expansion of the low-income Child Tax Credit — will help families and lift children out of poverty. Non-partisan, nonprofit health advocacy group United States of Care called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 a “major step toward defeating the virus and ending the pandemic.”
But what impact will it have on insurance? H.R. 1319 includes a provision (Title IX, Subtitle F) that helps those who lose employer coverage keep COBRA benefits in place through the end ofSeptember. The provision provides a tax credit that employers can use to pay to keep coverage for departing workers in place, without employees having to pay anything out of pocket for the coverage.
Title IX, Subtitle A, Part 7 drastically, though temporarily, expands the subsidies that people can use to pay for coverage from the Affordable Care Act health exchange.
These subsidies would expire by the end of 2022, but of course Congress could always decide to extendthe time that the health insurance finance arrangements stay in place.
Stimulus Bill Need to Know
- One section calls for COBRA continuation benefits at no cost unemployed
- Another provision caps what high-income people pay for individual coverage at 5% of income.
- The bill includes around $4 billion in funding for programs that support prevention of and treatment for mental health and substance use
- Health insurance subsidies are set to expire at end of 2022, but historically some temporary federal health finance provisions have stayed in place for many years.