Readers Write: Trumpcare helps wealthy, hurts all else

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On “Face the Nation” (3-12-17), Congressman Paul Ryan, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. claimed that, when choosing a health insurance plan, the current, proposed American Health Care Act is designed to give taxpayers, “more freedom, more choices, more markets, better access”

On “Meet the Press” (3-12-17), Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price claimed that, regarding the proposed AHCA, taxpayers will, “have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not (what) the government forces them to buy.”

Well, a quick reading of the actual American Health Care Act  reveals the proposed AHCA will give taxpayers access with choices, but, at substantially higher costs than what most are paying for health insurance premiums now.

Having “access” and “choices” means nothing if you cannot pay for the desired health insurance plan you want and to which you can have access.

Having access to something does not mean you can pay for the something to which you have access.

Words can be tricky little devils. Remember:  The devil is in the details.

The AHCA seems to push for taxpayers to use more of their own dollars to pay for their own health care services and, not for them to get payments from health insurance coverage.

Wording in the proposed AHCA seems to encourage taxpayers to contribute more dollars to health flexible spending accounts (dollars from taxpayers’ own pockets…not from insurers’ pockets, Pages 85-86, 121), offers mini- tax credits for taxpayers to apply against massive, out-of-pocket health insurance premiums, a 30 percent premium penalty to be paid to health insurers and, health insurance companies’ profits if one doesn’t keep paying health insurance premiums, and other discouraging tidbits, such as:

Pages 46-47 — “Reducing the cost for providing health insurance coverage in the individual market and small group market, as such markets are defined by the State, to individuals who have, or are projected to have, a high rate of utilization of health services (as measured by cost).”

In other words, the sicker you are, the higher your health insurance premiums will be.  This is better than Obamacare?

Pages 62-63 — “Encouraging continuous health insurance coverage…(a) Penalty applied equal to 30 percent of the monthly premium rate.”

Pages 65-66 — “Sec. 135. Change in Permissible Age Variation in Health Insurance Rates.”   Higher health insurance premiums rates for older people?

Page 68 —  “Repeal of Tanning Tax”…lessens tanning costs by removing a 10 percent tanning tax, thereby, possibly encouraging more young folks to potentially increase their chances of developing skin cancer through tanning, while, ultimately,  profiting the tanning salon industry.

Page 78 — A tidy chart appears showing how older, middle class Americans will pay the highest in health insurance premiums, apparently based on age and income at a time in their lives when most have a limited income.

Pages 88-89 — “Hospital Insurance. In addition to the tax imposed by the preceding subsection, there is hereby imposed on the income of every individual a tax equal to 1.45 percent of the wages received by such individual with respect to employment.”

Page 89 — “Hospital Insurance. In addition to the tax imposed in the preceding subsection, there shall be imposed for each taxable year, on the self-employment income of every individual, a tax equal to 2.9 percent of the self-employment income for such taxable year.”

Pages 89-91 — Sec._15. “Refundable Tax Credit for Health Insurance Coverage” described as between $2,000 – $4,000.

This would be a mere pittance of a credit when applied to a health insurance plan that may cost upward of $20,000- $25,000 per year, leaving taxpayers with tremendous out-of-pocket costs, especially, older Americans with significant medical issues.

Page 100  —  “Married couples must file joint return. If the taxpayer is married at the close of the taxable year, no credit shall be allowed under this section to such taxpayer unless such taxpayer and the taxpayer’s spouse file a joint return for such taxable year.”

Seemingly, this clause would discourage married couples from filing their income taxes as, ‘married filing separately.’

I urge every taxpayer to read the actual, proposed AHCA for himself to see what the act really says as some Congressman try to shove it through Congress for quick passage.

Only after reading the proposed AHCA for himself can a taxpayer draw reasonable conclusions as to what is being passed off as offering more “access” and more “choices” regarding health plans.

One can have “access” and “choices” to buying a castle….but, one may not have enough money to buy that castle.

At present, the group proposing the AHCA has not presented any definitive costs for its implementation.

From a cursory reading of the proposed AHCA, it appears to me that the only folks who will benefit from this act will be the wealthiest people, health insurance companies, and large corporations not the middle class or the poor.

I urge every taxpayer to call his congressman and express opinions about the AHCA as written.

Now, more than ever, caveat emptor — let the buyer beware.

Kathy Rittel

East Williston

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