Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Rep. Lynn Jenkins Bill Would Drop 250K People from Health Care Coverage, Save $61 Billion

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Rep. Lynn Jenkins Bill Would Drop 250K People from Health Care Coverage, Save $61 Billion

Article excerpt

Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins would cause as many as 250,000 people to lose health insurance coverage and would save the federal government $61 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people purchasing health care plans through the federal marketplace are eligible for subsidies based on their income. The system is inexact, however, because consumers must estimate their next year's income.

If they underestimate, they receive a larger subsidy than they are entitled to under the law. The consumer must then pay back some, but not all, of that excess subsidy.

"They can simply pocket the difference, and that's not fair. That's not good government," Jenkins said.

As a result, the congresswoman introduced HR 4723. The bill would require health care consumers to repay any overpayments they receive.

"This is a simple bill. It's about good governance and our duty to protect the tax dollars of hardworking Americans," Jenkins told the House Ways and Means Committee on March 16.

The Congressional Budget Office teamed with the Joint Committee on Taxation to analyze the bill's ramifications, finding it will bring in $3 billion in 2017 and $61.6 billion over the next decade but would lead as many as 250,000 Americans to drop their insurance.

"By recapturing this amount, you're effectively increasing, somewhat, the cost of health insurance," said JCT chief of staff Thomas Barthold.

That has led Democrats to accuse Jenkins of trying to financially harm the same hard-working Americans she claims to protect.

"This bill is nothing more than a blatant attempt to once again scare people away from the Affordable Care Act," said Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., during testimony on the bill.

Jenkins disagrees with the estimate, calling it "nonsensical" to think people who earn more money than expected will drop their health insurance.

"Those who are eligible for taxpayer-funded health insurance subsidies would continue to receive their subsidies, and the only folks who would lose their health care are those who choose not to re-enroll with their correct income," she said in an email Thursday. …

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