The House passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package Wednesday with several provisions beneficial to insurers and providers.
The package is a win for President Joe Biden, accomplishing large parts of his healthcare agenda only three months into his tenure.
"We are making the largest expansion of the Affordable Care Act since it was enacted and for which the Ways and Means Committee helped to write," said Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) from the House floor.
Under the bill, people with incomes over 400% of the federal poverty line qualifying for premium assistance for the first time.
Low-income Americans will also receive more generous subsidies. Both provisions, which are supported by hospitals and insurers, will be in effect for 2021 and 2022 but Democrats have signaled they would like to make the changes permanent.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the ACA provisions could extend coverage to 2.5 million uninsured consumers at a cost of $34 billion, undoubtedly a win for insurers looking to entice younger, healthier customers and hospitals facing increasing amounts of uncompensated care.
The package will cover 100% of the costs of COBRA premiums for laid off workers through Sept. 30.
Insurer and employer groups lobbied hard for that provision, which could help more than 2 million people and cost more than $8 billion, according to the CBO.
The bill attempts to further reduce the number of uninsured Americans by offering additional funding to states that expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.
Twelve states have yet to accept the ACA's Medicaid expansion, and it's unclear how many will be motivated to do so by increased funding given the GOP's long-held opposition to the ACA.
Rural providers will get $8.5 billion, to be distributed through the Provider Relief Fund, which Congress established last year to help providers weather the financial pressures of the pandemic.
The American Hospital Association and other hospital groups expressed disappointment that the bill didn't include the $35 billion in additional Provider Relief Fund money they asked for.
The fund received $178 billion in previous COVID-19 relief bills.