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Modifying Income Calculation for Heath Care Programs

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MARCHANT. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support H.R. 2576. This bill would count the entire Social Security benefit, rather than just the portion that is taxable for income tax purposes, as income for determining eligibility for Exchange subsidies, Medicaid, and CHIP.

This bill is both good policy and good economics. The 2010 health care law uses a uniform definition of modified adjustment gross income--or ``MAGI''--to determine eligibility for Exchange subsidies, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP. By using a uniform basis of eligibility, the current health law doesn't properly take account of the entire Social Security benefit. This understates the resources available to some households; which thus allows some individuals to game the system.

To illustrate, allow me to cite a report by the Associated Press, dated June 21, 2011. In the report, the Chief Actuary for federal health programs, Richard Foster, determined that ``a married couple could have an actual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid'' under the current definition. There is no sound logic to this. In the same article, Foster adds, ``I don't generally comment on the pros and cons of policy, but that just doesn't make sense.''

In addition, CB0 and JCT have estimated the bill would reduce the deficit by $13 billion over ten years.

H.R. 2576 is good policy and good economics. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.


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