Tax reform is a constantly moving target as both the House and Senate consider ongoing amendments and approach floor votes on the final versions (the House is expected to vote on their Tax Cuts and Jobs bill on Thursday). But yesterday a new tactic was announced in the Senate bill: repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate via tax reform legislation.
What is the individual mandate?
The Affordable Care Act (and other viable insurance structures) rely on healthy people buying insurance as well as the sick to help cover healthcare costs for the entire population and keep insurance rates low for everyone. Schemes to divide patients into high and low risk pools and charge them different rates have largely resulted in pricing sick and low-income people out of healthcare with skyrocketing insurance rates. The ACA addressed this issue by mandating that all individuals must maintain health insurance or pay a penalty in order to incentivize healthy patients to buy in.
What does removing this mandate do?
Saves $300 billion. Great, right? Not exactly. Removing the individual mandate also results in the loss of health insurance for 13 million people and an increase in insurance premium costs by roughly 10% for many Americans, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The move would also destabilize the insurance marketplace by eliminating the buy-in of the healthy patients insurers rely on to stay profitable, forcing them to spike premiums or pull out of the market entirely.
Plus, the $300 billion would not go toward needed services for Americans of any income bracket, toward reinstating popular tax deductions for American families, teachers and students, nor toward reducing the deficit. In fact, the plan sets an expiration date on its tax cuts and adds an additional $1.5 trillion to the deficit.
CALL TO ACTION
- Ask Senator Hatch, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, to remove the health care debate from the Senate tax reform bill and protect health insurance for Utahns and Americans. Health insurance, hospital insurance and doctors groups all oppose the repeal of the individual mandate.
- Contact all your Members of Congress and ask them to support tax reform provisions that benefit Utah families by protecting their access to health care through the ACA, maintaining funding for critical affordable and low-income housing, supporting deductions for children, students and teachers, and reducing deficit spending rather than adding to it.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
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