Franken Bill Would Fix the “Kids Glitch” to Cover Uninsured Kids
Washington – The First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, today endorsed the Family Care Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) to remedy a glitch in U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If uncorrected, this ill-considered regulation could leave health insurance out of reach for as many as 1.9 million children.
“We want the Affordable Care Act to provide coverage that works for children, and the fact is that – because of this ‘kids glitch’ – sometimes, it doesn’t,” said First Focus Campaign for Children president Bruce Lesley.
Under ACA, anyone who has an offer of affordable insurance is ineligible for tax credit subsidies for coverage in the new health insurance “exchange” marketplaces. But the IRS regulations implementing that provision base the affordability assessment on the cost of insuring the employee alone, instead of the cost of family coverage. While individual-only employer-sponsored health insurance costs average around $5,400 a year, annual costs for family coverage average $15,000 – nearly triple. Thus children will remain uninsured because the IRS regulatory glitch denies their parents the tax benefit needed to afford coverage for the whole family.
Senator Franken’s legislation would require the IRS to assess affordability for a family by comparing the costs of coverage for the whole family against the whole family’s income. If not remedied, the kids glitch could deny coverage to 460,000 children, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Organization (GAO). The Franken bill ensures that family members who don’t have an affordable offer of coverage from an employer can apply for subsidized coverage in the new insurance marketplace.
“Senator Franken’s proposal offers a common-sense solution to a nonsensical problem, and we urge senators to support it,” said Lesley.
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.