Major Obamacare expansion in Covid relief package


In addition to unemployment benefits and economic stimulus measures, the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill being voted on in the Senate this weekend has a massive expansion of the Affordable Care Act.

Although it is a one-time relief package, the bill increases subsidies for health insurance premiums, and that portion of the bill is not likely to be temporary, as it is an expansion of the ACA.

The bill lifts the income limits on the subsidization of premiums, which will be now 400 percent of the federal poverty line.

Those in households that are at 150 percent of the federal poverty line will now qualify for Medicaid. Under the existing law, Medicaid expansion is for those at under 138 percent of the poverty line who don’t have insurance through their employers, as they are not likely to be able to afford private health insurance.

A single person with an income of $60,000 income could see subsidies more than double for their health insurance.

Insurance premiums are set to skyrocket in 2023, something this amendment of the bill is anticipating and trying to mitigate with the expansion of the subsidies and tax rebates for those with private insurance.

The bill also has incentives for those states that have not expanded Obamacare. Although 37 states adopted the expanded ACA, including Alaska, the relief package being voted on has more attractive matching payments to try to coax the remaining states to sign up. This comes at an anticipated cost to future taxpayers of $16 billion over 10 years.

The little-publicized measure is the first major expansion of Obamacare since it passed in 2010. The Senate is voting on the Covid-19 relief package this weekend. It will likely pass and be signed by President Biden next week.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates this aspect of the relief package will cost $44 billion over the next decade.

The current national debt stands at greater than $28 trillion, more than $224,000 per taxpayer in America.


  1. Concern for the National Debt in Congress seems to have left the building a long time ago. As I understand it: the interest on the debt would explode if interest rates ever rose back to historical levels.

  2. To my great-great grandchildren: I’m sorry we didn’t re-elect President Trump in 2020. We will be crushed under this debt, and owe who? China? A middle east shiekdom? Elections have consequences.

    • You don’t like this because you evidently don’t need it-neither do I, but there are plenty that do. And the debt will be owed to those who purchase Treasuries, that include widows and orphans.
      National debt is never an issue when Rs are in charge but suddenly become an issue when Dems show up. Yes, elections do have consequences and in this case there will be additional relief for those needing it-paying for it will not be an issue if it is right-sized (to be seen).

      • The problem Bill is that this law demands that people who have good jobs pay for those who don’t – PPACA wants 40% of my gross income plus 24% for income tax. PPACA doesn’t protect patients, is NOT affordable, and the demrats just DON’T CARE – about anything but their own power. I’m priced out of health care largely because subsidies drive up prices. Remove the subsidies and the prices will come down due to market forces.

        • This is what happens when one party doesn’t get involved in a bill-not that it matters here but if you look you’ll see that not a single R participated in this bill (similarly to Obamacare). Used to be compromise in crafting legislation but not so much anymore. Of course Trump promised a “yuge” healthcare plan that never got out of the gate. And before that, Hillary got her healthcare plan stuffed down her throat.
          This issue is a tough one but nobody is going to throw that many Americans off of health insurance IMO. Single payer, as in Medicare, would solve your problem but I’m not holding my breath for it.

          • I’ve been a patient under single payer-Canada-and thankfully stabilized sufficiently to get me back to the US for treatment. Think Post Office efficiency.

          • The Rs aren’t “involved” because of partisan politics – they were involved, but get no credit and get to make few, if any, amendments because the ‘rats are in control and want all the credit for “their” issue. Republicans believe in the market – not nanny-state communism (and that is what it is no matter how sweetly you package it – tyranny). Ask anyone on Medicare or Vets using the VA – socialized medicine always leads to cost overruns and rationing of service – and a bureaucratic nightmare that makes our insurance system look simple.

          • That sounds like a complaint but for what reason? Canada doesn’t treat non-Canadians under their program but does charge high rates for them. I’ve never heard a complaint from the many Canadians I’ve known.
            Anyway, you clearly were not part of any single-payer system, but nice try.

          • You must know only healthy progressive Canadians. Many I’ve met head south, US and Mexico, when they need immediate care. I would like to see more accessible healthcare but every program so far (especially Obamacare) seems to only push costs up and accessibility for those having to pay for themselves down.

          • Rich, I’ve been on Medicare for over 10 years and also have good friends that depend on VA with serious conditions. None of them has experienced the issues you bring up because they are just your myth IMO. One friend is in AK and the other CA with no issues you speak of. Your turn.

      • Well Bill, you and I agree that both parties ignore the debt when it suits their need. But we need to be careful of ‘need’. I see a surge of big screen television sales immediately following the ’emergency relief’. Far better service to those in need is to fully open the economy and let people return to work. This massive boondoggle is just another self inflicted injury to our economy and our nation (9% to COVID relief).
        After The Great Fire Of Rome (where he did not fiddle), Nero decreased the silver content in the Denarius by 10% to pay for rebuilding. By the end of the empire in 476, Roman coins held almost no intrinsic value and the Dark Ages ensued. This morning I read that one billion Venezuelan Bolivars (appropriately coded Bs) are worth 53 cents US. With our current governance, maybe time to invest.

        • If you think people will patronize indoor restaraunts because they are allowed to open, I’ve got some bridges for sale. Anyway, you are entitled to your opinion but that’s not getting anyone anywhere IMO.

          • In Fairbanks they never closed and I did not note more empty seats-but I don’t eat out often. My daughter is a chef and more in demand than ever, now turning down jobs. The restaurant I occasionally patronize for breakfast has a big table of retired operators full every day, and these have to be the highest risk group of all (at least one with a post cancer laryngectomy). Ditto when I visit Wasilla. Maybe the snowflakes in Anchorage are different, but I wouldn’t know because I escape that town as fast as I can. By the way, Silver Gulch in the ANC Airport always seems to have sit down customers too.

          • Sit-down restaurants will start filling their seats about the same time that these large cruise ships (petri dishes) get going again.
            Not before this pandemic gets under control IMO. And, I suspect, one may need a vaccine card to participate. Heheh!

          • I returned from Seattle Wednesday. If they are supposed to limit dining to 25% (they are), their actual capacity must be huge. Most people want to get out and live.
            ‘I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.’ Jimmy Buffett

          • Those who let fear dictate their lives are slaves to that fear. They also display their lack of faith. I get it – no one wants to get sick. We know enough about this biological warfare virus now that what we are doing is clearly an over-reaction. Time to open up – get vaxxed and relax. “Normal” we will never be again, but fear mongering over this must stop. Reminder – a 117 year old nun in France survived COVID.

          • A little Russian roulette in your future? Maybe get a home on Behrends Ave. just for the winters? Heheh!

          • I neither gamble nor believe in luck. My days and hours are limited, I choose to boldly live them rather than quake in fear.

    • Spendowitz- keep in mind that the stimulus payments were actually proposed by President Trump and had higher limits. I agree with debt concern, but it is a bipartisan issue.

    • How does it make you feel that someone regards your great-great grandkids as chattel?
      chat•tel chăt′l
      n. An article of movable personal property.
      n. A slave.
      To regard as a chattel; reduce to the condition of a chattel.

  3. Where in the heck was Sullivan last night when this passed? (50-49) According to reports, he was the only Senator who didn’t vote.

  4. Thank you Bill Walker for expanding Medicaid.
    Thank you Mitch McConnell and Leeza for ignoring Obamacare repeal.
    And great thanks to John Roberts for keeping it in law.
    The Venezuela Bolivar trades at 1,000,000 to $0.53 USD today. Time to invest.
    We are doomed.

  5. This whole bill is a mess. If we are going to do this, the Senator from West Virginia ensured that his constituents were protected while people like Alaskans get the shaft. My guess is that the reduction of the upper level of stimulus payments from $200,000 per family to $160,000 will impact Alaska’s families on a ratio of at least 10:1 when compared to his state- a dollar isn’t a dollar everywhere you go across the country. I am not opposed to supporting families through a crisis like COVID at all, but make this a poster moment of why socialism will never fairly work in our country vs. a small micro-society and country like Denmark.

  6. Buried on pages 305-306 of the legislation, the provision creates a $570 million fund for disbursements to federal employees who are not working because they are caring for others because of the coronavirus. “the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021”—would allow federal employees to make up to $1,400 a week without working. Under the legislation, full-time federal employees are eligible for 600 hours in paid leave through September, receiving up to $35 an hour.

    • That’s insane! Just like the folks who had minimum wage jobs and ended up getting $600 a week unemployment…no wonder why employers are desperate for employees…no one wanted to go back to work.

  7. America is going all the way, she going for broke!
    Every great empire had a beginning, a pinnacle point, and an ending. America will never rise as a new nation after those within destroyed it in vain hope they thought they can form their own nation without losing territory. Like all great empires Americans will be a scattered people and the world will lose the greatest humanitarian monetary contributer the world ever seen.

    Maybe I’ll be old enough seeing America fall and chaos and crime all around my community.
    You know whats happening!? The world is losing all its places of its last hope and all the great places to runway. Think of all the immigrants who immigrated (runaway) into America, they will have no other place to run away after America. The world is losing all the great places people used to runaway from tyranny and oppression. We lose the world’s last remaining physical of hope that can only lead us to ONE place to run toward after everything we built is gone.
    The fall be for all the best, Americans will never repent, Too much pride.

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