Wednesday, December 20, 2017

APA Criticizes Tax Bill as Unnecessary Attack on Nation’s Health Care

Congressional Republicans along with President Donald J. Trump celebrated the final passage today of a sweeping tax reform bill that slashes corporate taxes while also gutting the central tenet of the Affordable Care Act. Expressing disappointment, APA said the bill causes “unnecessary damage” to the nation’s health care system.

The core of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a huge cut to the corporate tax rate, dropping it from 35% to 21%. The measure also cuts individual tax rates for all income tax levels, with most of the benefits going to those earning more than $300,000, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The final bill passed the House 224-201, with no Democrats backing it and 12 Republicans dissenting. The president is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as it is enrolled.

Repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act “sacrifices the health care of 13 million Americans who will lose their insurance by 2027,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., in a press statement. The change is projected to save the government $300 billion over a decade.

“By significantly raising the federal deficit, this bill sets the stage for future cuts to Medicare and other critical safety net programs,” Levin continued. “What is being sold as a tax cut bill is also an attack on our health care system. There is no reason for these two issues to be decided by the same vote.”

According to a coalition of six physician organizations of which APA is a member, repealing the individual mandate will increase premiums and destabilize the individual and small group markets. People with mental illness were more likely to be insured after the implementation of the ACA (5% versus 13%), according to a recent APA survey.

“We need Congress to pass legislation that will stabilize the ACA markets and shore up our health care system,” Levin said. “We stand ready to work with Congress on a thoughtful, bipartisan approach to health care reform.”

The measure leaves untouched health savings accounts. These are savings accounts linked to high-deductible health insurance plans and exempt from tax liability.

This is the last issue of the PN Alert for 2017; Alerts will resume publication on Tuesday, January 2. Happy Holidays!

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