Biden Takes Additional Action on Health Coverage Access, Affordability, and Quality

This week, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. announced a series of actions to strengthen access to affordable, quality health care coverage throughout the U.S. Building upon an executive order issued last year to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the President issued an additional order this week directing federal agencies to review agency actions to identify ways to continue to expand the availability of affordable health coverage, to improve the quality of coverage, to strengthen benefits, and to help more Americans enroll in quality health coverage.

As part of this review, federal agencies must examine:

  • Policies or practices that make it easier for all consumers to enroll in and retain coverage, understand their coverage options, and select appropriate coverage
  • Policies or practices that strengthen benefits and improve access to health care providers
  • Policies or practices that improve the comprehensiveness of coverage and protect consumers from low-quality coverage
  • Policies or practices that expand eligibility and lower costs for coverage in ACA Marketplaces, Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs
  • Policies or practices that help improve linkages between the health care system and other stakeholders to address health-related needs
  • Policies or practices that help reduce the burden of medical debt on households

The Biden-Harris Administration additionally proposed a rule to strengthen the ACA by fixing the “family glitch.” Under the ACA, individuals who do not have access to affordable health insurance through their employment may qualify for a premium tax credit to purchase affordable, high-quality coverage on the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces. Current regulations define employer-based insurance as “affordable” if the coverage solely for the employee, and not family members, is affordable, making family members ineligible for a premium tax credit. According to the Administration, the “family glitch” impacts about five million people and has made it impossible for many families to use the premium tax credit to purchase affordable, high-quality coverage through the Marketplace.

As such, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are proposing to fully eliminate the “family glitch.” Should the proposed rule be finalized, family members of workers who are offered affordable self-coverage but unaffordable family coverage may qualify for premium tax credits to purchase ACA coverage. An estimated 200,000 uninsured persons would gain coverage, and nearly one million Americans would have access to more affordable coverage. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Thursday and remains open for public comment through June 6, 2022.

Additional information from the White House is available here.