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Expand chart
Data: The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Axios Visuals

Democratic presidential candidates' proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act could be a particularly big relief to low-wage workers.

Between the lines: These effects would be especially noticeable in some politically important states — including Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

How it works: In addition to creating a public insurance option, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have proposed changes to the ACA's system of subsidies.

  • Today, those subsidies aren't available to people who have the option of getting coverage through their jobs, and the least generous subsidy caps a person's premiums at 9.9% of their income.
  • Biden and Buttigieg would require that no one pays more than 8.5% of their income on premiums, and they'd let people forego employer insurance and get coverage through the exchange — or at least through the public option.
  • They'd also peg those subsidies to more generous policies with lower deductibles.

And a public plan would likely be cheaper than most private coverage, creating a more affordable option and, supporters argue, bringing down prices throughout the market.

What they're saying: Many low- and moderate-income workers would likely choose those options, said Matthew Fiedler of the Brookings Institution, because premiums for employer insurance often eat up more than 10% of poorer workers' incomes.

Employers — especially in low-wage, high-turnover industries — could also end up benefitting.

  • "Many employers would undoubtedly like to be out of the health insurance business if they could be guaranteed their employees could find comparable affordable coverage elsewhere," Avalere consultant Chris Sloan said.

Go deeper

Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief framework as a basis for jumpstarting negotiations.

Why it matters: The framework, introduced by a group of bipartisan senators on Tuesday, calls for significantly less funding than Pelosi had previously demanded — a sign that Democrats are ready to further compromise as millions of Americans endure economic hardship.

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.