Republican Senators co-sponsor legislation to delay Health Insurance Tax…
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) As Democrats defend Obamacare to constituents, they are simultaneously working with Republicans to delay the implementation of yet another health-care tax that would increase premium costs and further destabilize the market.
The Health Insurance Tax Relief Act would place a two-year moratorium on the implementation of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT)—a tax that Obamacare mandated, according to a press release from cosponsor Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
Gardner was among a bipartisan coalition who introduced the bill last Wednesday.
The others were Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Doug Jones, D-Ala.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., .
America’s Health Insurance Plans reported that the tax, due to take effect in 2020, would impose $16 billion in new fees on health insurance, a cost that individuals and businesses—not health insurance companies—would bear.
“Without Congressional action, the Health Insurance Tax will impose fees on nearly 142 million Americans’ health care coverage in 2020,” Gardner said.
Gardner estimated that the HIT fees would require insurance seekers to pay around $162 more per month in premiums next year when purchasing plans on the individual marketplace.
However, those depending on the Obamacare exchange for their insurance would not be the only ones affected.
“Senior citizens and the disabled, that rely heavily on Medicare Advantage face significant increases, and small businesses will be forced to pay an additional $448 for each of their employees,” Gardner said.
The bipartisan legislation revealed a rarely heard sentiment from some of the red-state Democrats who cosponsored it: a fear that higher taxes on health care would increase prices for consumers.
“This bipartisan bill will improve our health care law and help reduce expensive health insurance premiums, which are impacting Granite State small businesses and residents, and millions more across the country,” Shaheen said.
Sinema, the newly elected Arizona senator who narrowly won her costly campaign to replace NeverTrump Republican Jeff Flake, put it more simply: “This tax raises costs for Arizona families and businesses,” she said.
The tax would hit the 21 million seniors and disabled people enrolled in Medicare Advantage more than any other group.
Estimates from Oliver Wyman, a management consulting company, show that the HIT would increase Medicare Advantage premiums by more than 55 percent, jumping in cost from $393.05 per month to $612.09.
Jones, who flipped the seat of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in another contentious election battle in Alabama, recognized that delaying the Obamacare tax will help this vulnerable group of individuals.
“Lowering those costs is a top priority for me and that’s why I am proud to help introduce this bipartisan bill to suspend the Health Insurance Tax for an additional two years,” he said. “By pausing this tax for another two years, our legislation will help lower premiums for small businesses, individuals, and seniors receiving coverage through Medicare Advantage.”
Despite their acknowledgement that the Obamacare taxes would prohibitively increase costs for low-income patients, none of the Democrats suggested repealing any more provisions of the law.
During the Trump administration, the cost of health care premiums dropped for the first time since Obamacare became law.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the average premium on the Obamacare exchanges would drop 1.5 percent in 2019.
Sen. Scott, however, predicted that this trend toward lower costs could reverse if Congress does not repeal the looming Obamacare tax.
“If the health care insurance tax is not addressed quickly, we could see a dramatic increase in the price of health care in South Carolina and around the country,” he said.