The AHA today urged the Office of Management and Budget to continue using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in making annual adjustments to the Official Poverty Measure, which are used in determining eligibility for federal safety-net programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and premium and cost-sharing subsidies for Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries and health insurance exchange enrollees. Responding to the agency’s request for comments on the strengths and weaknesses of certain alternative inflation measures, such as the Chained CPI for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) and the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, AHA expressed concern that the alternatives “are critically flawed in that they do not accurately represent low-income and poverty-level households. Given these flaws, it would be inaccurate to adjust OPM annually by these alternatives.” The letter notes that some experts estimate that using the C-CPI-U to update the poverty line, for example, would cause many seniors and people with disabilities to lose prescription drug assistance; children to lose Medicaid/CHIP coverage; adults to lose Medicaid expansion coverage; and insurance exchange consumers to lose cost-sharing or premium assistance.

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