Spotlight Exclusives

Health Care Reform and Low-Income Americans

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Earlier this week, in one of the most sweeping pieces of social legislation in decades, the House passed a health care reform bill that will make some big changes to our current system. Much of the bill has already been signed into law, while a few remaining changes are likely to be made by the Senate in the weeks to come.

While a lot of attention has been paid to the bill۪s politics and its impact on the budget, we at OOTS want to be sure to highlight how the bill affects low-income Americans.

According to a brief from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the bill should offer some significant benefits aimed specifically at low-income Americans:

  • Expanded Medicaid eligibility: the legislation will provide coverage for millions of low-income people by expanding Medicaid coverage to include people with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty line.

Premiums and cost-sharing: individuals and families with incomes above the level needed to qualify for Medicaid but still below 400 percent of the poverty line will be given “premium credits.” These credits will limit how much low-income Americans spend annually on health care premiums a significant cost for many struggling families to a certain maximum level. In addition, separate “cost-sharing” subsidies will be provided to those making less than 250 percent of the poverty level to help them meet costs for seeing a doctor.

In addition, several of the bill۪s provisions that aren۪t focused on low-income Americans but are instead aimed at reforming the health care system as a whole, will affect how low-income individuals and families receive health care. For example, the legislation will create state-based insurance exchanges, which will increase competition and make a variety of health care options available. Additionally, provisions that outlaw caps on coverage and make it illegal to deny coverage to patients with preexisting conditions will all have a significant impact in the lives of vulnerable Americans.

According to an article in the New York Times, the bill marks a sea change in our government۪s approach toward economic inequality. As the reforms and the discussion around them moves forward, OOTS and Spotlight will keep an eye on how they affect those most in need of real change.

Posted by Mike


Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn۪t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and its impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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