Manchin demonstrates, again, that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about

Manchin demonstrates, again, that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about

June 22, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Because here’s his pat answer to whether he’d support extending the subsidy expansion: inflation and means testing. The “conservative Democrat reiterated his concern about Americans enduring a difficult stretch of inflation,” Business Insider reports. Then he said the “main thing here is the means-testing.” News flash for the senator: There’s already means testing in the subsidy formula.

“We should be helping the people who really need it the most and are really having the hardest time,” he aid. “With health care, people need help. They really do.” Thanks, Captain Obvious. What he’s advocating—though he seems to have absolutely no clue this is what he’s doing—is a return to the pre-ARP formula when millions of people were shut out of affordable health insurance. Nor is he aware that there’s still a mechanism in place to keep the people who can afford insurance without the subsidies from getting them. Because he doesn’t care. Means testing sounds appropriately Republican-lite, so that’s what he goes for.

Here’s how it actually works: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) originally capped subsidies at household incomes more than 400% above the federal poverty line, about $111,000 for a family of four. At that income level, subsidies shut off and millions of people with that higher income still couldn’t afford the unsubsidized premiums. The ARP changed that, instead using premium costs to determine whether a subsidy would be available. If the benchmark plan’s premiums would cost more than 8.5% of household income, then the subsidy is available. If household income is ample enough that the unsubsidized premium does not consume 8.5% of it, they don’t get the subsidy. That’s means testing—people who can afford insurance premiums without assistance don’t get it.

Something like 13 million people would have to face very large premium hikes in 2023 if this isn’t fixed. They’ll get the notice that is happening in October, weeks before the election. The government estimates that 3 million people would lose their health insurance altogether because it would be too expensive. Meanwhile, health care debt is still out of control; 41% of Americans, about 100 million people, owe for their previous care. That’s not even counting what they put on their credit cards.

Manchin sure does have a narrow slice of people he finds deserving of help. Too poor and he thinks that you’ll just be spending your child tax credit on drugs. Too rich and you should spend a huge chunk of your income on health insurance. And if you’re an autoworker in his home state of West Virginia, don’t even think about unionizing. That’s his other demand for this reconciliation bill on behalf of the non-labor Toyota manufacturing plant in West Virginia: No extra tax credits for electric vehicles made in the U.S. in union plants.

For someone who says Congress “should be helping the people who really need it the most,” there sure are an awful lot of people he insists don’t deserve to be helped.