Sandy Springs, GA — Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06) has introduced H.R.942, the Pandemic Health Care Improvement Act, legislation expanding Affordable Care Act Exchange premium tax benefits to individuals on unemployment insurance (UI). The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“It’s no secret that hard-working Americans are facing severe economic challenges due to this pandemic, and every one of them deserves access to quality, affordable health care. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, quality health care is very personal to me, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation to expand benefits to many of those most affected by this public health crisis” said McBath. “I thank my colleague for joining me to introduce this bill today as we continue our work to improve health coverage for the American people, make care more affordable, and strengthen protections for all those who live with pre-existing conditions.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made accessing affordable health care even more dire for working families struggling to make ends meet. This critical legislation would be a lifeline to those receiving unemployment insurance benefits, ensuring that they receive financial assistance for their health care to keep them covered during the pandemic,” said Sánchez. “To recover from this public health crisis, we must make sure every individual has access to quality, affordable health care. I am proud to support a bill that does just that, and I thank my colleague for her continued leadership on this issue.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis have caused devastating mass layoffs and major adjustments to the workforce. The Department of Labor received more than three-quarters of a million initial claims for unemployment aid in the final week of January, according to recent figures, and the nation has lost nearly 10 million jobs since before the pandemic.

The legislation amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to apply a premium tax credit for those who are unemployed in 2021. The premium tax credit – also known as PTC – is a refundable credit that helps eligible individuals and families cover the premiums for their health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace. When an individual enrolls in Marketplace insurance, they can choose to have the Marketplace compute an estimated credit that is paid to the insurance company to lower what they pay for monthly premiums (advance payments of the premium tax credit, or APTC) or to get all of the benefit of the credit when they file their tax return for the year.