WASHINGTON — A congressional mistake that could cause nearly 4 million people to be ineligible for federal subsidies in President Obama’s health care law has prompted Massachusetts officials to launch a new effort to try to close the gap.
Under what has become known as a “glitch” in Obama’s health plan, eligibility for insurance subsidies will be based on how much it costs workers who buy an individual plan, not the far more expensive family plan. The glitch would affect uninsured spouses and an estimated 460,000 children of workers who cannot afford the family coverage offered through employers.
Although that was not what lawmakers say they intended, partisan congressional gridlock has closed off efforts to fix the glitch before the ambitious overhaul aimed at universal coverage kicks in fully next year.
So officials in Massachusetts, where the framework for the national law was first enacted, are stepping in, saying they want to fix the glitch to help those affected in the Bay State. Advocates say they hope Massachusetts’ efforts will focus new national attention on the problem.
Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has proposed a pilot program to allow workers at small businesses who cannot afford family coverage under their employer-sponsored health plans to qualify for subsidies, offered through the state’s Medicaid program, starting in January 2014, said Glen Shor, secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance and former chief of the state’s health insurance exchange program.
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