VOL. 132 | NO. 244 | Monday, December 11, 2017
Letter to the Editor
Cohen: Tax Bill Really a Bad Health Care Bill
U.S. REP. STEVE COHEN
The Republican tax bill is advertised as a tax cut for the middle class, yet is anything but. In actuality, this bill is a scam to benefit the ultra-wealthy and corporate interests. Worse yet, it is a health care bill disguised as a tax bill, and a not very well thought-out one at that. If passed, this bill would repeal the individual mandate, a critical component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is outrageous.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have estimated that by 2027, there will be 13 million fewer insured Americans if the individual mandate is repealed. The Center for American Progress estimates that by 2025, there will be 15,200 fewer Memphians with health insurance. This change will increase premiums and result in some areas having no health insurance options at all. The policy is ill-conceived, unravels our nation’s health care system and ultimately hurts the American public, least of which, the most vulnerable among us.
I was proud to vote in favor of the ACA. Since its passage in 2010, 20 million Americans have gained health coverage from the ACA, and tens of millions more have benefited from it, including many in Memphis.
Among its many improvements, the law allows young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance plan, and health insurance companies are prohibited from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions. It has allocated resources to our community health centers, which provide health care to millions of patients across the country. The ACA has made it clear that being a woman is not a pre-existing condition by ensuring that women can no longer be charged more for their health coverage simply because of their gender, and has guaranteed that preventative services – such as annual general check-ups, mammograms, prostate cancer screenings, HIV and other STD screenings, immunizations including flu shots, and birth control – are available free of charge. The Affordable Care Act has slowed the growth of premiums and health care spending, both for those in the individual and employer marketplaces.
Rather than tearing the law apart, I believe Congress should listen to the public and health care experts, and take meaningful steps to improve the existing law in order to lower premiums, deductibles, and prescription drug costs.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen represents Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District.