By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 1/14/2010 10:24:04 AM ET 2010-01-14T15:24:04

Claim: Most of the people who would get covered under the Democrats' insurance reform would be poor.

The Democrats' insurance reform legislation begins with the premise that too many Americans are uninsured — 46.3 million in 2008, the Census Bureau's most recent estimate. The legislation would raise hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes and fees to expand insurance coverage. Which income groups would benefit most?

Fact or fiction?
Fiction. Medicare actuary Richard Foster estimated that the Senate bill would give about 20 million coverage by expanding the Medicaid program for low-income people, while another 20 million would get covered through insurance marketplaces, called exchanges. In the Senate bill, Medicaid eligibility would be 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which last year was $29,326.50 for a family of four, or $14,403.90 for a single person. The House bill would expand eligibility to 150 percent of the poverty level. If a family's income exceeded the Medicaid threshold, it might be eligible for subsidies to buy coverage. Of the $930 billion net increase in federal spending in the Senate bill, about two-fifths would go to expanding Medicaid coverage. The rest would go to non-poor people, even those with incomes up to $88,200 for a family of four.

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