The Senate version of the GOP health care bill has now been reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The bill, called The Better Care Reconciliation Act was developed in secret meetings by a small handful of Republican Senators. When it finally saw the light of day the public learned that it differed only in small ways from the House version that had been floated earlier in the year to disastrous consequences.
There has been a lot of publicity about the severe impacts of both bills on individual health insurance policyholders and to Medicaid recipients. The CBO estimates that the Senate version will cost 22 million Americans their health insurance, only slightly better than the 23 million estimated for the House bill. Both bills cut Medicaid funding to the states which will impact millions of people who rely on that system to obtain even the most basic of medical care.
What has not really been addressed in the media is that these bills have as much to do with granting tax cuts to the richest Americans as it does to cutting health care to the middle and lower income population. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) had instituted taxes on insurance companies and medical device manufacturers to help fund the subsidies that reduce premiums to lower and middle-income policyholders. The reasoning was that both categories of corporations would see a direct benefit from the ACA because more people would be insured. In addition, a tax was imposed on Net Investment Income, a Medicare surtax and a tax on “Cadillac” high-cost employer health plans. The result of cutting all these taxes is a phenomenal gift to the wealthiest among us. CNBC reports that almost half of these tax cuts will go to households making over $875,000! The total amount of the tax cuts? $701 Billion! The CBO report calculated that the Senate bill would save $1.02 Trillion primarily through those cuts to Medicaid. However, once the loss in income due to the tax cuts were figured in, the net savings to the government is just $321 Billion over a decade.
While most of the media coverage has been about those unfortunate millions of people who are going to lose health insurance and access to health care, an equally important story seems to be that this is really a tax cut disguised as a health care bill.