CBO, JCT and CMS Remind the Public of How Complicated and Expensive Health Reform Bill Is

April 23, 2010

According to the Moderate Voice, the Office of the Actuary at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has predicted a more expensive future for American health care than the Obama Administration is forecasting.

The Hill said the report is unwelcome news for Democrats who had said throughout the debate that the legislation would lower costs as well as expand coverage:

Democrats and the White House have said that reports from actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) often make projections that are too bleak.

They have pointed to reports by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that that show the law will lower the deficit and expand coverage.

Still, Boehner said that the CMS report vindicates Republican calls to slow down on healthcare, which was passed into law last month without a single GOP vote.

This comes on the heels of an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation that almost 4 million taxpayers who don't buy insurance will be hit by the new tax penalties in the health reform law. Tax collections from this penalty for violating the individual mandate to buy insurance will exceed $4 billion.

As reported in Tax Notes Today, (subscription), the agencies said up to 3 million of those who will pay are "middle- and lower-income taxpayers," which they defined as anyone who makes less than $120,000 for a family of four, or less than $59,000 for an individual. They would pay nearly $2 billion.

About 900,000 households that earn above those amounts are also predicted to forgo health insurance. Their penalties will be higher, totaling $2.3 billion.

The tax penalty in 2016 is $695 per person or 2.5 percent of taxable income, capped at a maximum of $2,085 per family.

As Tax Notes reminds readers, "President Obama has repeatedly vowed not to raise taxes on individuals earning less than $200,000 or families earning less than $250,000."

Democrat Pete Stark reacted by asserting that health insurance is a shared responsibility and that the percentage of taxpayers hit by the mandate penalty is small. Republican Dave Camp reacted skeptically, asserting that the report confirms officially that people the Administration promised to subsidize will instead be penalized.

Until this CBO report, accusations that the health reform bill violated the President's pledge not to raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 had focused on three other taxes in the bill: The new threshold for deducting health care expenses on the 1040 is 10% of AGI instead of 7.5%, hitting anyone with especially high medical costs. The new taxes on medical device manufacturers and drug companies will result in higher prices for all purchasers. And let's not forget the tanning tax!


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