(Boston, MA) - Statement from Health Care For All's Executive Director Amy Rosenthal regarding the Senate vote on the tax reform bill and the repeal of the individual mandate:
“Health Care For All is extremely disappointed that the U.S. Senate decided to pass a piece of legislation that will have a disastrous impact on low-income and middle-class families in Massachusetts and across the country. The tax reform bill that was approved early this morning will provide tax cuts for billionaires and corporations at the expense of millions of Americans who will end up paying more in the long run.
“This is not only a tax bill, but also a sneaky health care bill with a provision to repeal of a key component of the Affordable Care Act. This version approved by the Senate includes the elimination of the individual mandate, a requirement aimed at ensuring that both healthy and sicker individuals purchase health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that axing the mandate will take away coverage from 13 million Americans nationwide, lead to steep premium increases, and destabilize the marketplaces in the long term.
“The good news for people in Massachusetts is that our state law will keep the mandate in place. This means that residents in the state will still have to purchase health coverage in order to comply with the law. While we are by no-means immune to the consequences of what is happening nationally, Massachusetts is fortunate that over the past decade policymakers here in our state have institutionalized many key provisions to protect coverage and stabilize markets.
“Instead of trying to find a back door to repeal a law that has brought coverage for millions of people in the country, Congress should focus their energy in the reauthorization of the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and needed funding for Community Health Centers. 172,000 children in MA depend on CHIP to access the health care services they need and the state will run out of resources to provide this coverage in the next few weeks. Other states have already exhausted the funding, putting access to affordable insurance at risk for hundreds of thousands of children nationwide.
“On behalf of consumers across the Commonwealth, we would like to thank Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren for their firm opposition to this piece of legislation. Now both chambers need to reconcile language to rewrite the tax code before a final version can be sent to the President’s desk. We know that we have a very committed congressional delegation that understands that this reform can have lasting and damaging consequences for working families. That’s why we encourage them to do everything they can to have stop this bill in its tracks. Health Care For All is also asking Massachusetts residents to reach out to friends and family in other states so that they can contact their members of the House Representatives and ask them to reject this tax bill, explain why it is an affront to middle-class families and the importance of keeping the individual mandate in place to make steady progress towards universal health care.”
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Health Care For All (HCFA) is a Massachusetts nonprofit advocacy organization working to create a health care system that provides comprehensive, affordable, accessible, and culturally competent care to everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us. We achieve this as leaders in public policy, advocacy, education and service to consumers in Massachusetts. For more information about HCFA, visit our website at www.hcfama.org. You can also call our free HelpLine (800) 272-4232 if you need help applying for health insurance.