Sunday, June 04, 2017

Senate Republicans consider taxing employer-provided health insurance (laura Clawson) · Friday, June 02, 2017, 12:28 pm

Republicans have found a way to make their healthcare plan even less popular, by taxing employer plans. The idea, which would mean changing how health coverage works for an additional 177 million people plus employers, was raised but not adopted in the House and is now being considered by some senators:

A number of lawmakers are open to the idea, including Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), GOP aides said, but there is no consensus yet on whether it should be included in the draft bill being written during this week’s congressional recess. [...]

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who floated the idea in his own health proposal, has said the tax code unfairly favors people who get their health insurance through work over those who buy it on their own. Republicans, Mr. Ryan said in March, want to “stop the discrimination in the tax code against people who want to go out in a free marketplace and buy the health care of their choosing.”

It’s a strong way to ensure that everyone has an opinion about the Republican plan, to say the least. That’s politics. Straddling politics and policy is another issue: If they’re going to change health coverage for virtually everyone not on Medicare, and if they’re going to tax an additional 177 million people for health care when workers and their employers are already paying premiums and copays and other out-of-pocket expenses … why not single payer? I mean, Republicans would never do single payer because socialized medicine blah blah blah—basically because it’s too good for working people. But might they be creating the conditions of possibility to make single-payer a little more imaginable in the U.S. context if they taxed employer plans?

Anyway, the idea is unlikely to go anywhere because, wow, will it be unpopular. But it sure is interesting where Republican minds go when they look at the healthcare system.


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