Today, the House of Representatives passed a tax overhaul that – if it becomes law –will have major implications for our health system. Antoinette Kraus, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network issued the following statement:
“Both the Senate & House versions of the tax bill would have profoundly negative implications for our healthcare system, and the Senate version amounts to a backdoor repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Both are unacceptable.
Lawmakers in Washington have spent almost a year pushing for changes that would result in the loss of health coverage for millions and rising costs for those who remain insured. Pennsylvanians have shown time after time that they don’t support these reckless actions. We call on Senators Toomey & Casey to reject this harmful bill and to oppose any bill that would dismantle our healthcare system in favor of tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% and large corporations.”
The House Bill would scrap the medical expense deduction, a provision of our tax code that provides relief to the oldest, sickest Pennsylvanians. Over 311,000 filed for the medical expense deduction in PA in 2014, 73% of which had incomes under $75,000.
The Senate version of the Bill, which is slated for a vote in the coming weeks, would do away with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, an action that amounts to repealing the ACA without a suitable replacement. The CBO estimates that the number of Americans without health insurance would increase by 13 million if the individual mandate were repealed. Those estimates are largely consistent with prior analyses from RAND, the Urban Institute, and Lewin. The savings from mandate repeal come entirely from these coverage losses. For example, fewer people would enroll in the ACA marketplaces and claim premium tax credits, reducing federal costs.
Both versions would add more than $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest. Evidence suggests that the money to pay for these cuts will come from programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and other safety net programs.