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Tax Breaks for the Richest Central to GOP Healthcare Bill

GOP health-care legislation is opposed by medical professionals, but contains large tax cuts for the wealthy. (Pixabay)
GOP health-care legislation is opposed by medical professionals, but contains large tax cuts for the wealthy. (Pixabay)
June 21, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia millionaires could see an average tax cut of close to $40,000 a year if the American Health Care Act becomes law, according to a new analysis. Those tax cuts would be paid for in part by removing more than 122,000 West Virginians from health-insurance rolls.

Alan Essig, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said Congressional Budget Office figures show the health bill that cleared the U.S. House is less about health policy than tax breaks for the top 3 percent of U.S. earners.

"The end result is 23 million people losing health-care coverage," he said. "The reason for that is to pay for $660 billion worth of tax cuts that overwhelmingly go to the wealthiest Americans."

Supporters of the AHCA have said cuts to Medicaid and reversing the program's expansion would reduce the federal deficit and lower health-care costs. The U.S. Senate has not yet made its version of the health bill public, but close observers say it closely resembles the House version.

The bill is opposed by the American Medical Association and American Nursing Association. The chief executive of the Charleston Area Medical Center called on employees of the state's largest hospital to ask Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to vote against the bill, in part because of its cuts to the state Medicaid program.

Essig said the majority of Medicaid recipients that could be affected are older folks and people with disabilities, pregnant women and children. He warned that bankruptcies due to medical bills, which have decreased under Obamacare, could be back on the rise.

"Real people will end up losing their health-care coverage, and that will impact people's health, people's lives and people's bank books," he said. "We're going to be going back to where we were, which I don't think is where anyone wants to go."

Under the Affordable Care Act, low- and moderate-income Americans have been able to get coverage due in part to a tax on individuals making more than $200,000 a year, or $250,000 for couples filing jointly. Essig said insurance premiums for an average 64-year-old with an income of $27,000 would rise from $1,700 to more than $16,000 a year.

The analysis is online at americanprogressaction.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV