Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 1:52 am | Fair 57º

 
 
 
 

Capps Co-Sponsors ‘Fair Access to Health Care’ Legislation

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced she is co-sponsoring the Fair Access to Health Care Act (House Resolution 3986).

The legislation, introduced by fellow California Reps. Mike Thompson and Anna Eshoo, would expand eligibility for premium assistance and tax credits to people living in high-cost areas who purchase health insurance through the federal and state exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

“One of my top priorities has always been working to ensure fair and equal access to quality, affordable health care," Capps said. "While we’ve come a long way, there is still work to be done. That is why I am proud to co-sponsor the Fair Access to Health Care Act, which would help level the playing field so that all middle-class families, no matter where they live, have access to affordable health insurance. This is especially important for individuals living in high-cost areas like the Central Coast.”

Currently, the ACA allows those making between 138 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health insurance through the ACA’s exchange marketplaces, such as Covered California. At this level, an individual making up to $45,960 and a family of four making up to $94,200 qualify for this assistance.

However, the income threshold used to determine eligibility for these tax credits does not take into account the cost of living in different geographic areas. A family living in Santa Barbara is treated the same as a family living in a small town in South Carolina or Texas, despite the large differences in cost of living. The Fair Access to Health Care Act would make a common sense change to the ACA by allowing the premium assistance currently offered to be based on an area’s cost of living.

Under the bill, the federal poverty level threshold would increase proportionally based on an area’s cost-of-living above the national average cost-of-living. The cost-of-living is determined using the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure.

For example, using this calculation:

» In the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, California Metropolitan Statistical Area, a family of four earning up to $122,403 and individuals earning up to $59,720 would qualify for premium assistance to purchase health insurance through Covered California.

» In the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, California MSA, a family of four earning up to  $109,856 and an individual earning up to $59,720 would qualify for premium assistance to purchase health insurance through Covered California.

Precedent already exists in the ACA for such cost-of-living adjustments. The ACA accounts for the cost-of-living differences in Alaska and Hawaii by using a higher income threshold to determine subsidy eligibility. The Fair Access to Health Care Act would provide similar adjustments to those living in the other 48 states.

Individuals and families from low-cost geographical areas would not be impacted by this legislation. Those earning up to 400 percent of the FPL would still be eligible for subsides and no region would see a reduction from their current subsidy level.

C.J. Young is a press assistant for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

 

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >