March 8, 2012
Washington – A coalition of 102 national and state advocates today sent a letter urging President Barack Obama and congressional leadership to fix a problem with the U.S. Treasury Department’s interpretation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care reform law that, if uncorrected, could deny affordable health care to hundreds of thousands of children and spouses.
“The ACA’s intent is clear – make health care affordable. Legal wrangling shouldn’t stand in the way of that common-sense goal,” said First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC) President Bruce Lesley.
The ACA makes some families eligible for tax credits to make private, employer-sponsored health insurance more affordable, and it bases eligibility on the family’s income and the cost of the insurance. But Treasury Department draft regulations implementing the ACA consider the cost of insuring the employee alone, instead of the cost of family coverage. While individual-only employer-sponsored health insurance costs average around $5,400 a year, annual costs for family coverage average $15,000 – nearly triple. As a result, this “Families Glitch” would likely deny tax credits to, and therefore leave health insurance unaffordable for, hundreds of thousands of children, as well as their non-employee parents.
“As a dad, I’d never build a groceries budget just for me – my wife and the kids eat too. We should expect at least that level of financial planning sophistication from the Treasury Department,” said Lesley.
The letter was signed by 42 national advocates for children and families, women, communities of color, educators, low- and moderate-income families, chronic disease patients, health care consumers, and health care providers, as well as 60 state and local advocacy organizations from 32 states. The complete text of the letter and signatories list appears below.
“With the health care of so many children and families hanging in the balance, advocates agree it’s time for politicians on both sides of the aisle to stop pointing fingers and start fixing this problem.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children coordinated the letter. FFCC also sponsored a congressional briefing that showcased new research documenting the human cost of this problem. FFCC staff have raised this problem with Obama Administration officials. Either the Treasury Department or Congress can provide relief to children and families who would be harmed if the Families Glitch goes unresolved.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.
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