Manchin agrees to 2-year extension for ACA subsidy boost in drug prices deal: report

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, has agreed to a two-year extension for Affordable Care Act subsidies, potentially staving off major rate hikes for the 2023 coverage year.

Manchin has told Senate leadership that he will support the extension as part of a narrow spending bill aimed at lowering drug prices, according to a report in Politico. The development comes as the healthcare industry has been imploring Congress to extend the enhanced subsidies that will expire after this year.

The American Rescue Plan Act introduced the boosted subsidies for the 2021 and 2022 coverage year. It ensured that people who previously did not qualify for income-based subsidies won’t pay more than 8.5% of their income on healthcare costs.

Democrats had introduced a three-year extension as part of the Build Back Better Act, which passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate over objections from Manchin.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and state-based exchanges have been clamoring for Congress to quickly renew the enhanced subsidies as insurers are now putting together their rates for 2023.

Manchin, whose office did not return a request for comment by publication time, previously told Fierce Healthcare he was concerned about the impact of any other policies on inflation beyond the drug pricing deal reached last month.

Democrats are pursuing the legislation via a parliamentary procedure called reconciliation that enables them to bypass a legislative filibuster for budgetary bills.