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Dem Finance chair floats longer ObamaCare extension, IRS enforcement

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Tuesday said he is calling for a longer extension of enhanced ObamaCare financial assistance, and floated increased IRS tax enforcement as a potential way to pay for it. 

Wyden told reporters that he is pushing for “the longest possible premium relief for people.”

The party-line health care measure that Democrats are preparing was recently expected to have just a two-year extension of the enhanced subsidies, which give people extra help in affording their premiums in Affordable Care Act plans. The extra subsidies are currently slated to expire at the end of this year. 

But there has been increasing talk of trying for a longer extension, which would also avoid setting up a cliff before the 2024 presidential election. 

Wyden, while stopping short of explicitly saying he was pushing to link the ideas, noted that additional funding for the IRS to increase enforcement against “wealthy tax cheats” could raise $120 billion. 

“Our work on IRS enforcement and generating over $100 billion on wealthy tax cheats finally paying their fair share, if you do something like that you can generate resources,” Wyden said. 

Wyden did not give a specific number of years he wants for an ObamaCare extension, but asked if he wanted to make the subsidies permanent, he replied that he wants an extension “as long as I possibly can get it.”

It remains unclear if Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would agree to include the IRS enforcement proposal in the bill, or to provide longer ObamaCare subsidies. A Manchin spokesperson declined to comment. 

But asked about any objections from Manchin or Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Wyden said: “I have not seen a caucus objection with respect to tax enforcement dealing with wealthy tax cheats.”

The bid for a potential new offset could open the door to adding additional features as Democrats jockey for a range of last-minute priorities. But it is unclear what Manchin would agree to. 

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