Update: Today the House passed their tax plan along party lines. For reaction, read the joint statement released by the Medicare Rights Center and the Center for Medicare Advocacy.[x_line style=”border-top-width: 1px;”]As Congress rushes to make changes to their tax bill, it keeps getting worse and worse, posing an immediate threat to the Medicare program and health care coverage for 13 million Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the enormous cost of the tax bill would prompt immediate, automatic, and ongoing spending cuts to Medicare – $25 billion in 2018 alone.
That is not the only worrisome news. After failing repeatedly to repeal the ACA, the Senate is now seeking to repeal the ACA’s individual mandate to purchase insurance coverage in order to help pay for tax cuts. They know this will devastate the ACA and lead to 13 million more people without health coverage, according to the CBO, and increasing premiums that will disproportionately affect people over age 50 who are not yet eligible for Medicare.
These new dangers are on top of an already bad bill. Congress is engaged in a rushed effort to push through a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, presenting a clear and present danger to health coverage, other vital programs, and families throughout the country. After adding $1.5 trillion to the federal debt, policymakers will use the higher debt – created by the tax cuts – to argue that deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other bedrock programs are necessary.
It’s time to stop this fast-track process to starve the federal budget and pay for massive tax cuts by undercutting the health and economic security of millions of American families. We continue to urge Congress to stop this headlong rush and return to regular order. We need a deliberative and bipartisan legislative process that is fully transparent and vetted by experts and the American public, especially when the legislation is this important and affects so many lives. We need stable revenue for our essential programs, not automatic, thoughtless cuts. The Medicare program, in particular, must be protected so that it can continue to bring high-quality health care to millions of Americans.
This article was originally released as a joint statement from the Medicare Rights Center and the Center for Medicare Advocacy. It was made possible by generous support from the Retirement Research Foundation.