Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment
Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment begins today, with more generous subsidies plus fix of “family glitch” to shield millions from inflation: If the premiums you are paying for employer-provided family coverage are already heavy and rising, your family may now be eligible for a subsidized plan under the Affordable Care Act for 2023. Federally-certified local assisters can help you find the best coverage. Please share this news with the working families your church serves.
Under a new IRS rule finalized in October, if family coverage where premiums for employer-provided insurance for family coverage exceed 9.6% of family income, those families can now apply for subsidized ACA plans. The new rule repairs the longstanding “family glitch” under which only premiums for the employee’s individual coverage could be used to determine eligibility for subsidized Marketplace plans if the employer offered coverage. The family glitch fix, combined with expanded premium subsidies through the American Rescue Plan, (ARP) can significantly reduce the health insurance costs of millions of Americans, especially the working poor. The more generous subsidies have been extended through 2025 as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation press release cites data from the Urban Institute that nearly five million people are affected by the family glitch, paying an average of 15.8% of their income on premiums. This reform is especially important for the working poor, especially women. Those earning less than 200% of the federal poverty limit could save an estimated $580 per person on premiums each year. Savings are now even greater because of the extension of the expanded subsidies under the ARP, which were due to expire Dec. 31.
Open enrollment continues through Jan. 15. You must choose a plan by Dec. 15 to have coverage effective Jan. 1. You can get free assistance near you in finding the right plan by searching the Find Local Help tool on Healthcare.gov. Encourage families to check whether they also qualify reduced deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Available only with Silver level plans, these cost-sharing reductions can save families thousands of dollars on health care and prescriptions.
Urge Senate to pass bipartisan Electoral Count Act
The Episcopal Public Policy Network posted an action alert which makes it easy to write to your Senator. This law (S.4573) would clear up ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act of 1887 which contributed to the chaos following the presidential election of 2020, including attempts to overturn the vote in specific states, send alternate electors, and demand that Vice President Pence refuse to certify the Electoral College results. The bipartisan bill would:
- Clarify that the vice president has only a ministerial role in counting the electoral votes.
- Close the loophole that allows state legislatures to declare a “failed” election and potentially overrule the decision of the voters.
- Ensure an expedited judicial process to resolve disputes about the validity of electoral votes.
The House of Representatives passed its version in September, and the Senate bill heads to the floor with 11 sponsors from each party. The Episcopal General Convention passed a resolution this summer urging reform of the Electoral Count Act. This is especially important given rising concerns over whether voters and state Secretaries of State will accept election results they don’t want.
Urge Senate to Pass Global Food Reauthorization Act
Image courtesy of feedthefuture.gov.
This bill (S.4649), which has already been passed by the House, will continue the Feed the Future initiative through which the US is working with low-income countries to develop local agriculture, nutrition, and food security. Feed the Future staff have published impact updates, estimating that this program has prevented stunting for 3.4 million children and lifted 23.4 million people out of poverty. The Episcopal Public Policy Network has an action alert with a link to write to your senators. The reauthorization is especially timely given the growing worldwide food crisis exacerbated inflation, the war in Ukraine, and the Russian halt to the grain shipment agreement brokered by the UN.
Advocacy in Advent
The Ohio Legislature will be working during the Lame Duck session on multiple bills that could harm or help vulnerable Ohioans. Advocacy in Advent, a Nov. 29 event at Trinity on Capitol Square, Columbus, (sponsored by the Ohio Council of Churches and the statewide faith-based nonprofit Hunger Network in Ohio) will start with prayer and issue briefings at Trinity facing the Ohio Statehouse, then continue with legislative visits from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The priorities include creating economic opportunities for all Ohioans, criminal justice reform, and working to ensure that all Ohio children have access to excellent schools. Register here.
Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a longtime community advocate and member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org