In this Edition:
- ACA Repeal & Replace Efforts Stall Out, Yet Again
- Senate Passes Bipartisan Medicare Reform Bill
- Tax Reform Next on Congress’ Agenda
ACA Repeal & Replace Efforts Stall Out, Yet Again
The threat of the latest attempt to repeal and replace the ACA, the Graham-Cassidy bill, died early this week after the Senate realized that again, they would not have enough votes to pass the bill, even under Reconciliation rules which would have only required a simple majority vote.
Meanwhile, Senators Patty Murray (WA) and Lamar Alexander (TN) have resurrected their bipartisan deal to shore up the health care exchanges under the ACA.
In addition, President Trump has suggested that he is finishing up details of an Executive Order due out next week that would allow people to buy insurance coverage across state lines, an idea pushed by Sen Paul Rand (KY).
We will be watching all of this closely and will alert you should the need for action arise.
Senate Passes Bipartisan Medicare Reform Bill
On Tuesday evening, as the Graham-Cassidy bill was dying, the Senate quietly and unanimously passed a bill known as the CHRONIC (Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic) Care Act aimed at making Medicare more efficient and saving it money.
The bill includes a range of programs aimed at improving how Medicare pays for care with people with chronic conditions and lowers Medicare costs in the long run.
The bill’s provisions include expanding a program created by the ACA that provides care for seniors in their homes; giving new tools to groups of doctors that come together to coordinate care for a patient, known as Accountable Care Organizations; and expanding the use of telehealth, where doctors use technology to communicate with patients far away.
This bill now moves on to the House. We will continue to monitor its progress.
Tax Reform Next on Congress’ Agenda
Next on the Senate’s plate is Tax Reform. On Wednesday, President Trump announced his tax reform plan and placed it in the lap of the Congress. While most of the plan details have yet to be released or discussed, the framework leaves little hope that this would in any way benefit lower and middle class citizens.
Robert Reich (former U.S. Secretary of Labor) points out several details of the tax reform plan:
“Here are the key ingredients:
- Lowers the corporate rate from 35 to 20 percent. This makes absolutely no sense. Today’s effective corporate tax rate (what they actually pay after deductions and credits) is almost the same as our major trading partners. Plus, American corporations are already so flush with cash they don’t know what to do with it except buy back their current shares. [Which means they won’t pass it on to middle class workers in the form of higher wages or additional jobs]
- Reduces the tax rate for so-called pass-through businesses – including hedge-fund, private-equity, and real estate partnerships — to 25 percent. This means that instead of paying the top rate of 39.6 percent, these mavens will pay 25 percent. It’s a giant loophole for the super super-wealthy.
- Lowers the top tax rate for every other rich person from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. This is absurd. America’s rich have gained the vast bulk of all the economic gains for the past decade. They’re richer than ever.
- Eliminates the estate tax. Right now it’s paid by the richest 0.2 percent and applies only to estates over $11 million per couple. Why exactly do they need a tax cut?
- Raises the bottom tax rate from 10 to 12 percent. Aren’t the poor already poor enough? True, the plan doubles the standard deduction and expands the child tax credit, which will offset much of that increase, but why increase taxes on the poor at all?
Oh, and how much will all this cost? They don’t say, but studies of similar plans produced by [this administration] have been projected to cost $3 trillion to $7 trillion over a decade.
Where will this money come from? Either (1) cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which are the only big pots of money in the federal budget, apart from defense spending, or (2) an exploding national budget deficit.”
As you can see, we have much work to do in the weeks and months ahead to continue the betterment of your retirement security. Your continued support and political action is a necessity!