The Republican tax, a.k.a. Healthcare Bill

RICHARD MORRIS

Williamsport

In their determination to cut corporate taxes, Republicans in Congress are setting in motion actions that will increase the cost of healthcare for many Americans, but especially for seniors.

The increase in the federal budget deficit that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will result from the Senate Tax Bill is projected to trigger a $25 billion cut in federal Medicare spending (reimbursements).

Since 44 million seniors receive Medicare, this will result in cuts in Medicare of approximately $520 for each senior. This money will have to be made-up through increased Medicare premiums or a loss of services.

Seniors who paid Medicare taxes their entire lives ought to be furious at Republicans for sacrificing the welfare of seniors for the sake of corporate profits.

The Senate version of the tax bill will also eliminate the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act that requires all taxpayers to buy health insurance. In theory, virtually everyone opposes such mandates, but this bill will raise insurance rates for everyone who has insurance since federal law currently forbids hospital emergency departments from turning people away because they lack insurance or the ability to pay.

Without that mandate, more people will drop their insurance and more hospital bills will go unpaid. This will lead hospitals to transfer those losses to people with insurance by raising the price of the services they provide. On a similar note, on May 2, 2017, Consumer Reports published a story revealing that, since the creation of the individual mandate, personal bankruptcies have dropped in half (from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770, 846 in 2017). If people who purchased insurance because of the mandate drop it, and bankruptcies return to pre-mandate levels, even more hospital bills will go unpaid driving hospitals to increase charges even more to make-up for revenues lost to bankruptcies.

Perhaps the middle class would break even if the Tax Bill actually cut taxes on working families. But, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Nov. 26, that over the next 10 years, Americans earning from $40,000 to $50,000 will pay $5.3 billion more in taxes than they currently would, while those earning $1 million or more would pay $5.8 billion less. These rising taxes will make it even more difficult for people to afford health insurance, further increasing the numbers of uninsured and further raising costs for those with insurance.

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