Biden Executive Order 04/05/2022

The tax credits that lowered my family’s health care costs are in jeopardy. Yours can be too.

When it comes to accessing affordable, quality health care, it can be very easy to forget how far you’ve come. This is what I remember from a remarkable opportunity I had recently that reminded me of the progress this country has made and my own family has experienced.

As a small business owner, my family was among those who benefited from improvements to the Affordable Care Act that became law at the height of the pandemic. With all the uncertainty of recent COVID years, savings for our employees – and my own family – have been a game changer. It turns out that public policy can really, and sometimes actually, reach directly into your personal life.

That’s how I found myself invited to a White House event focused on health care. In a million years, I never imagined I would be in the room with an American president, let alone two, for a conversation about how to lower the cost of health care for working families.

The U.S. bailout, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote and signed into law by President Joe Biden, included enhanced premium tax credits for those, like my family, who buy their health care through the Obamacare market.

Unfortunately, these tax credits, which have reduced the cost of health care for millions of families, are due to expire at the end of this year.

As part of the push to urge Congress to extend tax credits, President Biden invited his former boss back to the White House to talk about the country’s progress on health care and how much of work that remains to be done.

When Joe Biden became vice president, it was perfectly legal for insurance companies to deny people health care coverage if they had a pre-existing condition. There was no limit to how much you could pay out of pocket for health care, even if you had good health insurance.

Not anymore.

Thanks to Obamacare, it’s now illegal to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions, and there are annual and lifetime limits on how much you can be forced to pay out of pocket for health care.

These provisions, and Obamacare as a whole, are not perfect. But they are a long way from where we were not so long ago. That’s why it’s so hard to understand why Republicans like Ron Johnson keep talking about repealing Obamacare. Rather than build on the progress we’ve made, it seems Republicans would rather undo all the progress.

Biden Executive Order 04/05/2022
The executive order that President Joe Biden signed on April 5, 2022, for a rule to address the “Family Glitch” affecting subsidies for insurance purchased under the Affordable Care Act. (Cameron Smith | Official White House Photo)

Millions more Americans now enjoy affordable health coverage through Obamacare. And among the improvements discussed at the White House that day two presidents came together to talk about health care, there is one that was finally addressed this year alone.

By executive order, President Biden fixed the Family Glitch, a problem with the formula that determined the amount of grants families were entitled to.

There was a problem. A mistake, really. And it was hurting families in ways that weren’t meant to happen.

So President Biden corrected him. And invited former President Obama to celebrate progress.

Now is the time to build on that progress once again, by extending the advanced premium tax credits that were part of the US bailout.

Here’s what those tax credits meant to my family.

As small business owners, we used to spend about 20-25% of our income, or over $30,000 a year, on health care. The US bailout reduced that percentage to 8.5%, which allowed us to finally get health care relief for my family and the families of my employees. In fact, some of my employees were able to afford health insurance for the first time in years.

It is essential that Congress extend the 8.5% provision indefinitely so that more people can continue to better afford their care and not worry from year to year whether or not they will get health care.

This would represent another step towards real progress in this country’s health care journey. When the time comes to celebrate this progress, I hope someone else who benefits will have their turn to celebrate at the White House as I had the opportunity to do.

Perhaps that person will have the chance to extend a heartfelt thank you to these leaders for their work on this important issue. I didn’t have that opportunity, but it’s a day that will stick with me and give me the strength to continue as a volunteer activist until every American has access to affordable, quality care.

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