Black Introduces Bill to Close Loophole in Health Care Law Allowing Middle Class Americans to Qualify for Medicaid

Jul 21, 2011 Issues: Health

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-TN) introduced H.R. 2576, a bill that would close the loophole in the health care law that would allow some middle class Americans to qualify for Medicaid.  Preliminary estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show that closing this loophole could save taxpayers $13 billion over ten years.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires states to use modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for calculating income levels to determine eligibility for Medicaid and exchange subsidies.  This new standard definition of income, which would take effect in 2014, deviates from long-standing practice in other federal assistance programs by failing to include all Social Security benefits as income.  H.R. 2576 would add Social Security benefits back into the income calculation by amending the Internal Revenue Code and would not increase the number of uninsured Americans.

“When you have the opportunity to save taxpayers $13 billion, ensure the scarce resources for Medicaid go to the people with the greatest need, and unburden already strained state budgets from paying for a massive new entitlement, well that's something I think you have to do, and do quickly,”
said Black.  “Bringing Medicaid back in line with basically every other public assistance program just makes good policy sense."

At a July 14 House Budget Committee hearing, Richard Foster, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Chief Actuary said of the current policy that would allow middle class Americans to qualify for Medicaid, “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced similar legislation in the Senate.