One of the main gripes about the Senate’s plan to replace and repeal Obamacare is that it gives a humongous tax break to the wealthy.
This is true. The Senate bill would slash healthcare spending on the poor and elderly to finance a hefty tax cut that primarily would benefit rich folks in the top brackets.
Admittedly, it sounds sort of cruel — “mean,” in the president’s own words — but some of this talk is coming from marshmallow liberals who believe that nursing-home patients deserve more compassion than hedge-fund managers.
Hey, the rich suffer, too. Their voices should be heard.
People who don’t make millions of dollars can’t relate to the agonizing experience of writing a big fat check to the IRS every three months. That’s right — the dreaded quarterlies.
And while the pain of making those payments is mostly emotional — a bilious mix of resentment and dismay — the long-term effects can cause real medical problems for the chronically wealthy.
Apparently that’s what happened after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act seven years ago. To help pay for the expansion of healthcare coverage, the law imposed a tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 annually ($250,000 for married couples), as well as a 3.8 percent fee on investment income.
I don’t run a hedge fund, but I recall a wave of queasiness upon learning that my taxes would be rising a bit. No immediate medical attention was required, beyond gulping a couple of Rolaids.
Still, it wasn’t hard to empathize with the plight of the uber-rich, whose misery was proportionally much worse than my own. Among high-bracket afflictions traced to the onset of Obamacare taxes were anxiety, insomnia, chipped teeth, elevated blood pressure, facial tics, and irritable bowel syndrome.
These conditions have been anecdotally reported from Palm Beach to Martha’s Vineyard to the Monterey peninsula. Many wealthy Americans haven’t sought treatment. Instead, they grittily endure, aching for the day when Obamacare is repealed and their tax bills go down.
It must also be noted that some rich taxpayers exhibit no symptoms whatsoever, rarely whine about healthcare taxes at social functions, and claim they don’t mind sacrificing to help those less fortunate.
They concede the ACA has big problems and needs fixing, but in principle they don’t mind kicking in some dough so that average-earning Americans can afford decent medical care. They say it’s good that more sick people have access to doctors, and that lives are being saved every day.
This curious subset of well-off taxpayers also hails the fact that many more healthy people now have insurance, believing this trend will eventually trim consumer health costs and the government’s huge tab for subsidized medicine.
I know a few of these soft-hearted folks. They seem smart and fairly sane, but a visit with the Koch brothers might open their innocent eyes!
Sure, the stats from the Congressional Budget Office look awful. The Senate healthcare plan could leave an additional 22 million Americans uninsured by 2026. Proposed drastic cuts to Medicaid would probably hurt someone you personally know.
Here in Florida, three out of five nursing-home patients rely on Medicaid payments, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program provide medical coverage to more than 4.3 million children in low-income families.
For those with private insurance, Republicans have promised a reduction in premiums. But, according to the CBO, the Senate plan will actually jack up rates for many older Americans.
Under Obamacare, a 64-year-old making $26,500 a year pays about $1,700 for a mid-range “silver-level” medical policy. Under the Senate replacement bill, the same person would pay $6,500 in premiums for less coverage.
So, if that was you, you’d be spending almost 25 percent of your income just on medical insurance -- a grotesquely higher percentage than most 64-year-old millionaires spend on theirs.
And, yeah, that sucks. But let’s not blame the poor millionaires.
It’s true that those paying for the ACA are the ones who don’t need to worry about affordable medical care, since there is literally no level of medical care they can’t afford. But should they be punished for the pre-existing condition of being rich?
No! cry Republican leaders, echoed by the president.
That’s why the first priority of repealing Obamacare is a mega-tax cut for the mega-healthy. Think of it as a caring, healing gesture that will, every three months, bring relief to those who need it least.
I feel better already.