Contra Costa Times: Obamacare: Two Bay Area legislators want to expand law’s subsidies in high-cost areas

By Tracy Seipel 


Hoping to increase the number of Americans eligible for tax subsidies under the new federal health care law, two Bay Area lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would expand the subsidized income level for those living in high-cost areas of the country.

U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Mike Thompson, D-Napa, say the Fair Access to Health Act ties health insurance subsidies to the cost of living in a geographic area instead of to the national federal poverty level.

The health care law “is helping low- to middle-income Americans buy private health insurance.” Eshoo said. “While this is tremendously helpful to millions of individuals and families, there are others in high-cost areas, like those in my home district of Silicon Valley, who cannot benefit because the threshold to qualify for subsidies does not account for the cost of living.”

The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” allows those earning from 138 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for tax credits to help them purchase health insurance through newly created state and federal insurance exchanges. At this level, an individual with an adjusted gross income from $15,857 to $45,960 — or a family of four earning from $32,500 to $94,200 — can qualify for the tax credits.


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