Late Tuesday afternoon, US Senate leadership announced that their tax reform would include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's requirement that most Americans enroll in some form of health coverage. This means that Senate Republicans are considering increasing the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million, raising individual market health insurance premiums by 10 percent, and potentially destabilizing the individual market in order to pay for more than $300 billion in extra tax cuts, on top of the $1.5 trillion in unpaid-for tax cuts already allowed under the congressional Republican budget.
Considering the deep flaws of this legislation, the Florida Voices for Health coalition is calling on Senator Bill Nelson and Senator Marco Rubio to reject the Senate tax plan and it's "skinny repeal."
The individual mandate is critical to keeping individual market coverage affordable and keeping the individual market stable. It helps ensure healthy people sign up for coverage, maintaining a balanced risk pool that keeps individual market coverage affordable. Most importantly, it promotes individual responsibility - a key tenet of conservative principles.
The irresponsible repeal of the mandate is meant to create savings while Congress pursues 1.5 trillion dollars in unpaid for tax cuts. The savings from the reductions in coverage would be used to provide even larger tax cuts for high-income households and corporations. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "the savings from repealing the individual mandate are likely to be used to pay for making part of the Senate bill’s corporate rate cut permanent. If so, these savings will pay for tax cuts worth an average of about $100,000 annually for the top 0.1 percent of households."
Unfortunately, this won't be the tax reform debate's the only threat to health care. Compensating for the loss of $1.5 trillion in revenue will undoubtedly renew attempts to deeply cut federal health care programs. Medicaid would be cut by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years in the current tax plan, a 20% cut, and more than that proposed under Graham-Cassidy or the AHCA. The pay-as-you-go rule, also known as PAYGO, passed in 2010, means mandatory cuts elsewhere—in this case, $28 billion would get automatically slashed from Medicare early next year (and be ongoing).
We are calling on Florida lawmakers, including Senator Rubio and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, to pursue tax reform that isn’t paid for on the backs of hard working low and middle-income Floridians. As a statewide coalition, we will remain vigilant and engaged, and we will continue to protect people from attacks on their care and access to treatment.