On June 6, 2022 on behalf of the American Public Health Association and 63 public health and health policy scholars, we submitted a comment to support the Biden administration’s efforts to address the so-called “family glitch,” which has barred many low- and moderate- income families from obtaining affordable health coverage.

The Biden administration has proposed fixing the problem with a regulation that revises an interpretation of the rules for tax credits under the act. Specifically, the agency has proposed to revise its existing regulations governing eligibility for the premium tax credits that are available to individuals and families under the Affordable Care Act. Under this revision, the affordability of employer-sponsored coverage for family members will be determined “based on the employee’s share of the cost of covering the employee and those family members, not the cost of covering only the employee.”

Additionally, the proposed regulations would establish a minimum value for an employee’s family members based on the value of the benefits provided to them. Together, these two reforms would ensure the availability of affordable marketplace plans for the family members of workers who have been offered employer-sponsored coverage for their families but for whom family coverage remains unaffordable. Affected families would save an average of $400 per person a year on health insurance premiums once the glitch is fixed, and low-income families would save even more, the Urban Institute estimates.

As the comment reads, “The proposed rule is not simply common-sense but rectifies the legal error contained in the agency’s existing regulations. For nearly a decade, countless families have been forced to forgo affordable insurance—or indeed, potentially any insurance at all—because of the agency’s error. The agency’s change is therefore not simply welcome—it is essential.”

The groups go on to encourage the agency to finalize its proposed rule, and in doing so, explain why that rule is supported by policy considerations and also represents the correct interpretation of the statutory text. Read the full letter here.