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Photo credit: Kevin Contee

Revised Tax Bill Takes Aim at Obamacare

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By AFSCME Staff Budget & Taxes

To pay for tax cuts benefitting the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, U.S. Senate leaders want to repeal the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the rule that is designed to help keep the cost of health insurance premiums down.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a repeal of the mandate would result in an additional 13 million people joining the rolls of the uninsured.

Congressional leaders want to use the savings they would gain from this repeal to help pay for the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that the House and Senate bills would grant big corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of working Americans.

A repeal of the mandate could also hike premiums for those who get their health care through the ACA – also known as Obamacare – since younger, healthier people will no longer be in the mix. Because the mandate underpins the ACA, the decision to include its repeal in the tax-cut legislation is yet another attempt to end Obamacare.

The inclusion of a partial health care repeal comes in addition to the news that the bill’s new tax breaks for individuals are only temporary, and will leave families with higher tax bills on top of higher health care bills. The proposed tax cuts for corporations, however, are permanent.

“Both versions of the tax plan moving through Congress were already a raw deal for working families,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders in a statement. “The decision to tack on the repeal of the linchpin of the Affordable Care Act adds insult to injury. Not only will millions of middle class families see their taxes go up, 13 million Americans will lose their health insurance – all so the biggest corporations and powerful elites can get tax cuts they don’t need and don’t deserve.”

The House version of the bill does not include the mandate repeal but it could trigger a $25 billion cut to Medicare. The tax bill passed the House on Thursday by a 227-205 margin. A vote on the Senate bill is expected after Thanksgiving.