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Bipartian Cooperation to "Sc**w" Recipients of Early Social Security Retirement Benefits

Alexa's picture


This will be a VERY brief post. I hope to work up something more on this later, but thought that it warranted being brought to light, to those who may have missed this "amendment" to the ACA.

Above is a "screenshot" of the Senate Vote on H.R. 674, 3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act. The vote in the House: 422/0, Yea/Nay.

Apparently, the party of the "little guy" (ROTFL) pushed to make ensure that individuals who had the audacity to draw "early" Social Security retirement benefits would not find it "easy" to be able to meet the individual mandate for health insurance under the ACA.

H.R. 674 was passed into law in November 2011. This amendment which included the previously "untaxed" portion of Social Security income as part of an individual's MAGI, meant that many seniors were precluded from both eligibility for Medicaid, and/or receiving "health premium subsidies" in the Health Exchange.

Here's an excerpt:

Title IV - Modification of Calculation of Modified Adjusted Gross Income for Determining Certain Healthcare Program Eligibility Section 401 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to include social security benefits that are excluded from gross income in the calculation of modified adjusted gross income for purposes of determining eligibility for the tax credit for coverage under a qualified health plan.

So much for the "Lesser Of Two Evils" theory, LOL!

Hopefully, some of you guys will join me in a "Tweet" campaign regarding this "amendment." I have to believe that a move like this would actually engender a huge "push back," if it were to "become known."

I will try to post a "Tweet" over the next days (in the Full Html Mode, which is okay if I don't "write" anything with the "Tweet").

PLEASE, if you agree with it, "Retweet" it.

Or, if you prefer--create your own "Tweets." ;-)

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Submitted by lambert on

Can you clarify this quickly? I'm on at NC this weekend, so I can give this point much wider circulation if we can hone it here at Corrente first....

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

I believe that this topic is too complicated and downright convoluted to attempt to address as a part of a "Twitter" campaign. Those of us following the ACA closely would probably "get it."

That's because there's probably no way that H.R. 674 (which was actually another House amendment, if I understand it correctly) could be reduced to "bumper sticker" language.

So I apologize--it was a bad idea in the first place.

Rep Diane Black (R-TN) who sponsored the "first" House bill, happens to be a multi-millionaire.

The Richest New Member of the House

It took a while for freshman Rep. Diane Black, 60, to get to the United States Congress and begin fighting against tax increases. But by the time she did, the Tennessee Republican had a lot of money to fight for.

According to recently disclosed financial information, Black has a net worth between $16 million and $74 million and may be the richest new member of the House of Representatives. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that her net worth in 2009 was $49 million.

As is the case with many new members of Congress, Black swept into office on last November's tea party wave with a message of fiscal austerity. But there is a big gap between Black and the constituents she represents. The median income of her Tennessee district, according to the Almanac of American Politics, is about $46,000.

Here she is on Washington Journal, explaining "why" she sponsored the bill to change the formula in order to make it harder for people to qualify for Medicaid.

This would also make it harder for people to qualify for the sliding-scale subsidies in the law.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said some 500,000 people might lose eligibility for the insurance subsidies altogether — even though Social Security income isn't usually counted when calculating other tax subsidies.

Here's an analysis by the CBPP (below) that some may find interesting.

A Tempest in a Teapot: News Accounts, Policymakers’ Statements Mischaracterize Supposed “Glitch” in Health Reform Law


The ACA will expand health coverage in two basic ways, starting in 2014. First, it will broaden Medicaid eligibility to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty line. Second, it will provide tax-credit subsidies to people who have incomes between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line and lack access to affordable employer-based coverage, to help them buy coverage in the new insurance exchanges.

In order to set up a streamlined system and avoid severe administrative complexities, the ACA also changes Medicaid’s definition of income so that the definitions used for Medicaid and for the new tax-credit subsidies will be the same.

Currently, the Medicaid program counts any Social Security benefits that applicants receive when it determines whether they fall within Medicaid income limits. The tax code, in contrast, excludes Social Security benefits from the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of people whose incomes are below $25,000 for individuals and $32,000 for couples and partially counts Social Security benefits toward the AGI of people above those thresholds.[2]

Once Medicaid adopts a tax-based definition of income, therefore, it will no longer fully count Social Security benefits in determining the Medicaid eligibility of people under age 65.

As a result, some non-elderly people with disabilities who are in their first two years of receiving Social Security disability insurance, and some early retirees aged 62-64 years who are drawing Social Security, will be able to qualify for Medicaid because their incomes — exclusive of Social Security — will be below 133 percent of the poverty line.

(Once a Social Security disability beneficiary has received benefits for two years or a retiree turns 65, the individual qualifies for Medicare, and these rules no longer apply in determining Medicaid eligibility. For these individuals, who will be ineligible to receive subsidies to purchase coverage in the insurance exchanges, the old Medicaid income eligibility rules will continue to apply.)

And I, for one, am SO weary of the excuse that no changes in the ACA can be made, due to Republican obstructionism.

Bottom line: When Dems and Repubs want to get something passed--they do!

Considering what we know about MERP, it may be a "good thing" for many in this age cohort/income level, that they won't qualify for Medicaid.

But possibly losing eligibility for "subsidies" is another story.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

that they passed this bill "under the radar" by tacking it onto this bill--3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act.

This is exactly what I expect to happen when they pass a "Grand Bargain."

And we won't even know about it, until we haplessly run across some mention of it, weeks or months later.