By Frank Fang
Two House Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for what they view as an unlawful expansion of Obamacare subsidies.
“The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a proposed rule that, if finalized, would unlawfully expand eligibility for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under ObamaCare,” Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote in a letter (pdf) dated June 6 to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
In April, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is also known as Obamacare. The aim was to fix the “family glitch” in the ACA, whereby dependents who are offered unaffordable family coverage do not qualify for coverage under the ACA.
Following Biden’s order, the Treasury Department and IRS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register. The proposal would allow non-employee family members who have to pay more than 10 percent of the household income for coverage to get premium tax credit subsidies.
The Biden administration estimated that the rule change would allow 200,000 uninsured people to gain coverage, and nearly 1 million more Americans to see their coverage become more affordable.
Jordan and Comer charged the Biden administration with being politically motivated in making the rule change.
“This proposed rule is inconsistent with both the statutory text and a rule that the IRS finalized nearly a decade ago,” the lawmakers wrote.
“The IRS’s reversal is unlawful, and it is bad policy,” they added. “By deploying the IRS for partisan political ends, the Biden Administration is returning to its playbook from the Obama-Biden Administration in weaponizing the IRS to achieve partisan goals.”
Additionally, Jordan and Comer alleged that the proposed rule “is a poor policy” since it “will cost billions of taxpayer dollars.”
“The rule ‘would mostly displace private spending with government spending as dependents replace employer coverage with subsidized exchange coverage,’” they wrote.
Citing a 2020 report (pdf) from the Congressional Budget Office, the two Republicans pointed out how the change would cost an estimated $45 billion over 10 years.
Sally C. Pipes, president and chief executive officer at the Pacific Research Institute, in a recent op-ed, criticized the Biden administration for trying to fix Obamacare, saying that the result “will be rising premiums, fewer coverage options, and ballooning costs for the public.”
“Biden insists that if the Affordable Care Act isn’t expanded, ‘premiums are going to go through the roof.’ But they’ve been doing so for years, thanks to the mandates imposed by the law itself,” she wrote.
“Twelve years on, the federal government continues to spend billions trying to ‘fix’ Obamacare’s many glitches. At some point, taxpayers will need to say enough is enough,” she concluded.
Comer and Jordan ended their letter by requesting all documents and communications related to this issue before June 20. They added, “The Obama-Biden Administration also used the IRS to unlawfully expand an ObamaCare subsidy.”
“It appears the White House is again using the IRS for unlawful ends,” they wrote.
Jordan is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and Comer is the ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Committee.