June 05, 2014

Kaine Introduces Bill To Improve ACA, Help Virginia Families Access Affordable Health Coverage

Measure would fix the ‘family glitch’ in the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Speaking on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine introduced legislation to help families in Virginia and across the country access tax credits in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure they get the most affordable coverage possible. The Family Coverage Act, which Kaine introduced with U.S. Senator Al Franken, would fix what is known as the “family glitch” by clarifying ACA rules so that individuals whose employers offer them health coverage that is not affordable to their family can access tax credits to help cover their premiums.  

Under the ACA, large employers must offer comprehensive, affordable coverage to employees.  If the employees’ share of premiums costs less than 9.5 percent of family income, the coverage is deemed "affordable" and the employee is ineligible for tax credits to help buy health coverage on the health insurance marketplace. However, the IRS interpreted the law in such a way that health insurance is considered "affordable" if the employee's share of premiums for individual coverage – rather than the more expensive family coverage - is under 9.5 percent of family income.  The result is that many middle-class families miss out on tax credits that would make coverage for their entire family affordable. Without reform, up to 460,000 children could be left uncovered.

“The Affordable Care Act has given millions of families in Virginia and across the country access to quality, affordable health care, but serious fixes are still needed to ensure we fulfill this promise for all families,” said Kaine. “Because of how the IRS has defined ‘affordable’ in their interpretation of the Affordable Care Act – based on the cost of the premium for the individual versus the cost of the family premium – a lot of spouses and families are cut off from the possibility of receiving tax credits under the ACA. The Family Coverage Act fixes this unforeseen consequence by changing the definition and providing eligible family members access to tax credits. I’m proud to work with Senator Franken on this legislation and will continue working with my colleagues on other important fixes to strengthen the law.”

A summary of the Family Coverage Act is available HERE.

Kaine has consistently called for reforms and improvements to the Affordable Care Act. In addition to the Family Coverage Act, Kaine has cosponsored the following:

  • The Small Business Tax Credits Accessibility Act that would increase the number of small businesses who can benefit from a tax credit for providing affordable, quality insurance to their employees
  • The Commonsense Reporting Act that would make compliance easier for businesses
  • The Expanded Consumer Choice Act (“Copper Plan”) that would create a new tier of coverage to give people shopping for health insurance more options to meet their financial needs
  • The Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act that would clarify the classification of volunteer firefighters as “employees” for the purposes of the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision of the ACA
  • The EACH Act that would ensure that the existing religious exemption will be applied in a fairer and more equitable way

“This is what we should be doing,” Kaine said on the Senate floor. “We shouldn’t be talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act and taking 14 million people who have insurance through the ACA and throwing them back out into the street. We should be engaged in the business of reforms and improvements. This is what legislators do.”

The Family Coverage Act is also supported by groups in Virginia and across the country, including American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund, Children's Dental Health Project, Community Catalyst, Consumers Union, March of Dimes, National Health Law Program, National Immigration Law Center, First Focus Campaign for Children, Children’s Hospital Association. 

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