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EDITOR, Daily News:
Just when we think we’re out, they pull us back in. The Republican Congress is launching yet another assault on the healthcare gains created by the Affordable Care Act, albeit one that is somewhat sneakier and less direct than the past five attempts. Instead of wholesale repeal of the ACA, congressional Republicans are merely seeking to eliminate the individual mandate while also financially undermining Medicaid/Medicare and removing the medical expenses deduction from the tax code. By these methods congressional Republicans hope to partly achieve the up-’til-now frustrated goal of ACA repeal: gut healthcare and use the savings to give ever greater tax cuts to the super rich and large corporations.
Here now is a rundown of the three components of the latest Republican health care plan:
1. Individual Mandate Elimination. The Senate’s tax bill eliminates the individual mandate. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that eliminating the mandate, the machinery of which helps many people acquire healthcare, will cause 13 million people to lose their coverage and raise health insurance premiums by approximately 10 percent.
2. Medicaid and Medicare Cuts. On Oct. 19, the Republican House and Senate passed a budget resolution formally declaring their intent to cut roughly $1 trillion from Medicaid and nearly half a trillion from Medicare. Republican leaders claim that these programs are financially unsustainable. Of course these claims are utterly absurd, given that the House and Senate are planning to add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit in order to finance tax cuts for large corporations and the super-wealthy. But once these tax cuts are in place, the deficit will be massively increased, and this increased deficit will then be used to justify the proposed Medicaid and Medicare cuts.
3. The Medical Expenses Deduction. Under current law, individuals can deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of their adjusted gross yearly income. Many Americans use this deduction in order to afford vital medical care and provide for chronically ill, injured or disabled family members. The House tax bill, which the House voted to send to the Senate on Nov. 16, eliminates this deduction.