HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending and tax plan includes proposals for child care, climate, affordable housing and health care.
The health care component proposes to provide health insurance for low-income residents in a number of states, including Alabama, that didn’t expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
The measure would not expand Medicaid, but instead would offer health insurance for people in what’s described as the Medicaid gap, former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones told News 19.
The difference between a state like Alabama, which has refused to expand Medicaid, and one that has, is literally health care,” Jones said. “Good health care and access to health care for people in Alabama, 350,000- 360,000 Alabamians.
Those are people caught in the Medicaid gap, Jones said.
“They make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid but they don’t make enough money to be able to afford good health care,” he said.
The Biden proposal, which has no announced Republican support and faces a rocky road ahead, would provide better access to care, Jones said.
“What it is, it’s going to provide a low-cost insurance for all these folks who can’t afford it right now,” he said.
Jane Adams, campaign director for Alabama Arise, an anti-poverty nonprofit based in Montgomery, listed a slightly lower number of people who could benefit than Jones. Adams estimates the proposal could help 340,000 Alabama residents.
“We’re talking about a family of three, you know, mom, dad and kid, in Decatur that are making $22,000 annually, you know about $420 weekly,” Adams said. “These folks are at 100 percent of the federal poverty level.”
Under the current system, the people caught in the Medicaid gap, don’t qualify financially for either health insurance under the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act anticipate low-income working people would get coverage through an expansion of Medicaid, but in the states where the expansion didn’t occur they were left out, Adams said.
“They have no path to health insurance, there is no option for them and there hasn’t been for more than 10 years, she said. “If the Build Back Better plan passes as it is written and is signed into law by President Biden — for the first time in more than a decade, those individuals, starting on January 1st can go to healthcare.gov and get free health insurance, private health insurance on the marketplace.”
The insurance proposal would run from 2022 to 2025.
Republican opponents of Biden’s proposals say it is a non-starter. They argue the overall plan is too costly and strongly oppose the measure’s calls for higher taxes on people earning $400,000 annually and on businesses and corporations.