The House Ways and Means Committee managed to come up with a little bipartisan support for a bill.
The crack in the congressional ice wall appeared last week, when members of the committee voted 23-12 for H.R. 2575, a bill introduced by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn, that calls for federal and state agencies to include Social Security benefits when deciding whether a family qualifies for the new health insurance purchase tax subsidies that are supposed to spring to life in 2014.
All 22 Republicans on the committee voted for the bill.
So did Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis. – a Democrat.
President Obama has put a similar provision in a budget proposal, but all other Democrats on the committee voted against the Black bill.
The bill would affect implementation of the premium assistance credit section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
The new refundable income tax credit created by the provision would help individuals and families with incomes ranging from 133% to 400% of the federal poverty level buy health coverage through a new system of health insurance exchanges.
PPACA now calls for the government to use “modified adjust gross income” (MAGI), a figure that now excludes Social Security benefits, when determining whether taxpayers are eligible for the premium assistance tax credit.
Analysts at the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation say putting Social Security benefits in the calculation would save $702 million in 2014, when the tax credit program is supposed to start to take effect, and about $13 billion from 2014 to 2021.
“Considering our $14 trillion in national debt, closing this loophole as soon as possible is good policy on a number of levels,” Black said in a statement about the bill.