The Latest: Budget office warns of uninsured Americans
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Republican tax overhaul legislation (all times local):
Congress’ budget experts are projecting that repealing the requirement that people buy health coverage would mean 4 million additional uninsured people by 2019 and 13 million more by 2027.
That’s slightly fewer than the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last year.
House Republicans have not ruled out annulling the so-called individual mandate as part of their tax bill.
The budget office says repealing the requirement would save the government $338 billion over a decade. Republicans could use that money to help pay for their tax cuts.
But Republicans, including many in the Senate, have hesitated because bringing health issues into the tax bill would complicate its passage. Besides more uninsured, the budget office says repeal would cause premiums for individual policies to rise around 10 percent annually for several years.
House Republicans have rejected Democratic proposals to restore tax benefits for student borrowers, people with significant medical expenses, homeowners and teachers to the GOP tax overhaul bill.
The tax-writing Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines on Wednesday against a battery of amendments.
The proposed elimination of the deduction for medical expenses not covered by insurance is especially controversial. The deduction has helped offset costs including nursing home care, laser eye surgery and travel for a second opinion on a rare cancer.
The GOP-led panel hopes to complete the tax overhaul legislation no later than Thursday.
A new government analysis of the House GOP tax bill says its true costs to the nation’s debt are at least $259 billion greater over the coming decade.
That’s because of the interest costs the government has to absorb to borrow more money to keep the government running. That puts the debt cost of the measure at $1.7 trillion over 10 years.
The Congressional Budget Office study actually understates the measure’s true cost since it’s based on last week’s version of the bill. An amendment added by Ways and Means Committee Republicans on Monday added $161 billion to the cost of the bill, mostly by watering down an international tax provision.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says the GOP drubbing in Tuesday night’s off-year elections “just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through” on the party’s drive to overhaul the tax code.
The Wisconsin Republican, speaking at an event held by the Washington Examiner, added that the GOP tax bill would “bear fruit politically, but most importantly it’s going to help people.”
He spoke hours after Republicans lost gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey by large margins in off-year elections that appear to be a bad omen for GOP chances in next year’s midterms.
The tax rewrite effort has assumed even greater significance in the wake of the GOP failure to repeal the Obama health care law.
Congress’ nonpartisan budgetary analysts say ending the requirement that most people buy health insurance would save less money than was estimated earlier.
The Congressional Budget Office says repealing the so-called individual mandate would save $338 billion over a decade. The office had estimated $416 billion in savings earlier this year.
Republicans have said they’re considering repealing the individual mandate in their tax bill. The savings would give them more room to cut other taxes in their legislation. Wednesday’s smaller budget office estimate means they’d have less money to play with.
President Donald Trump wants to include the repeal in tax legislation. Doing so would complicate the tax bill’s passage because of GOP divisions over health care, and so far the repeal is not in the House or Senate versions.
House Republicans have blocked Democrats’ efforts to get bigger tax benefits for the cost of raising or adopting children.
As the House’s tax-writing committee feverishly sprints toward a completed bill by week’s end, the Senate’s tax bill is starting to take shape. That version is expected to completely repeal the federal deduction for state and local taxes but retain the medical expense deduction.
The House GOP plan calls for repealing the adoption tax credit. One of the Democratic proposals defeated Tuesday would have restored that credit.
Another defeated Democratic amendment would have added a $3,600 credit for families with children under age 6.
This corrects an earlier version to say that Wednesday’s CBO estimate of uninsured people is slightly less, not more, than the office projected last year.