August 9, 2017
Reviving Obamacare Repeal By Killing the Health Insurance Tax
By John Gizzi
Two weeks after efforts in the Senate to repeal Obamacare were thwarted by a few Republican senators, there is talk of another attempt at taking aim at what is officially called the Affordable Care Act.
This could begin through repealing a pivotal – and costly – portion of the legislation scheduled to take effect in 2018: the Health Insurance Tax (HIT), which places a direct tax on insurance premiums.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sounded the alarm bell Tuesday for a Republican-led movement to kill the HIT when he tweeted: “GOP can’t give up on promise to #RepealAndPromise, including #Obamacare’s taxes increasing premiums and killing jobs.”
The tax was delayed until next year by a bipartisan vote in Congress that included more than 100 Democrats and 250 Republicans. According to a Heritage Foundation study, HIT would raise the already-high cost of insurance premiums by an additional two to three percent.
“Devastating” is how Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist described HIT to Newsmax.
“If the health insurance tax is allowed to go into effect in 2018, it will directly hurt middle and low-income families,” Norquist warned, “In total, the tax hits 11 million households that purchase through the individual insurance market, and 23 million households covered through their jobs.
“Next year alone, the tax will total $14.3 billion and over a decade the tax totals roughly $150 billion in higher taxes,” Norquist said.
In addition, the National Federation of Independent Business concluded that the tax could cost up to 286,000 in new jobs and cost small businesses $33 billion in lost sales in the next six years.
Broken down to the state level, the figures on the impact of the health insurance tax are particularly devastating.
In North Carolina, for example, State Treasurer Dale Fowell estimates HIT becoming law next year would mean an increase in the cost of Medicare Advantage plans by an eyebrow-raising 30 percent.
In its 2012 ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare by 5-to-4 on the grounds that it was a tax and not a mandate. In 2018, a major reason for it being defined as a tax will become law unless Republican lawmakers make an effort to repeal HIT outright rather than simply delay it once again.
“The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] explained that most of the tax would be passed on to consumers — as virtually all taxes on businesses are — in the form of higher premiums,” healthcare expert Merrill Matthews of the Institute for Policy Innovation told Newsmax.
“And this is when several states are announcing premium increases of between 50 percent up to 80 percent. Americans are struggling like never before to pay their health insurance premiums now that Democrats made them ‘affordable’ and the HIT adds one more insult to the injury,” Matthews continued.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.