Democrats introduce bill to stop health care tax

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and seven other lawmakers introduced legislation to repeal a tax on certain health plans that was included in the Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in 2010.

“What was true then is true now,” said Sanders, a presidential candidate who opposed the provision. “Imposing an excise tax on health insurance plans would be a disaster for millions of middle class Americans. Some have said that this tax only falls on ‘Cadillac’ health care plans, but the reality is that the plans this bill will tax are more like Chevrolets. Workers have fought hard to negotiate decent health care benefits, often in exchange for lower pay.  This excise tax unfairly punishes them.”

According to Sanders, “the tax not only punishes hard working Americans, it is simply bad policy.  We should make sure that all Americans receive affordable, high quality health care.”

The Affordable Care Act imposes a 40 percent non-deductible excise tax on health plans with values exceeding $10,200 in coverage for individuals and $27,500 for families. The provision is indexed to inflation and will rise automatically over time, with the potential to eventually affect all employer-sponsored plans.

The bill would strike the excise tax while demanding that repeal be paid for.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, this provision would generate $87 billion over 10 years.  Senator Sanders has long advocated that revenue could be raised through a surtax on the wealthiest people in this country, a provision that was included in the House version of the ACA.  At the time, that provision was estimated to raise $460 billion over ten years, more than five times the amount raised by the excise tax.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) are cosponsors of the legislation.

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