Repealing the Affordable Care Act is going to be a windfall for America’s wealthiest families, even as it wipes away programs that have allowed millions of poor and middle-class Americans to get health insurance.
A new government report shows just how big that windfall is.
According to that analysis, which the Joint Committee on Taxation prepared this week and which the New York Times obtained, shows households with incomes of more than $1 million will get tax cuts that, over the next decade, would add up to roughly $157 billion.
The money comes from two new closely related taxes that the Affordable Care Act imposed to help finance the law’s coverage expansion. These taxes affect wealthy individuals and families exclusively ― they apply only to households with incomes above $250,000 for joint filers and $200,000 for individuals.
Previous estimates have suggested that 97 percent of Americans do not pay the tax at all, but that for the very wealthiest Americans, including those millionaires, it is worth quite a lot.
In fact, the richest 400 families in America would get an average tax cut of $7 million per year, according an analysis that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published in January, based on earlier projections of what those taxes cost now.
The GOP repeal legislation, which its sponsors have called the “American Health Care Act,” would not simply reduce taxes. It would also roll back the law’s expansion of Medicaid and reorient its financial assistance, producing a massive shift of funds away from lower-income Americans.
Initial independent estimates suggest millions would lose insurance as a result. The Congressional Budget Office will release its official estimate next week.
Promoters of repeal legislation, including leaders of the Republican Party, have frequently said that repeal is necessary in order to “rescue” America from the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 law has raised premiums and forced coverage changes for some people, and in some states insurance markets are in trouble because the insurers are losing so much money.
But the markets in other states are fine, and the law has brought the number of uninsured Americans to an all-time low. Both access to care and financial security have improved overall, according to multiple studies.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was asked this week about cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans at a time of so much inequality. “I’m not concerned about it because we said we were gonna repeal all the Obamacare taxes, this is one of the Obamacare taxes,” he replied.
JCT prepared the analysis for the House Ways and Means Committee, which considered and approved repeal legislation this week. Neither JCT nor Ways and Means had made the report public.