The U.S. Senate took a disappointing step over the weekend by voting for a tax reform bill that, in a cowardly move, snuck in an end to the tax penalties associated with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate. Senators approved a plan that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says would increase the number of uninsured by 13 million over 10 years.
The previously approved House of Representatives’ version of the tax bill does not have this provision. A Senate and House conference committee will soon get to work on a final tax bill, as lawmakers are hoping to have a plan on the President’s desk before the winter break.
In the short term, there is no concern for L.A. Care members if the final tax bill includes a repeal of the individual mandate penalty provision. Current premiums and co-pays will not change, and members should continue visiting their doctors and filling prescriptions.
However, the devastating impact will occur as healthy people begin to drop out of the system, causing health insurance premiums to rise above affordable levels for those who are sick and remain insured. This would undoubtedly lead to the death spiral of the ACA, without requiring our elected officials to "repeal" or even "replace" this groundbreaking legislation.
I am hopeful that enough lawmakers will come to their senses to prevent this disaster. As we wait, I repeat my pledge that L.A. Care will continue to be the voice in Washington D.C. of our more than two million members and the safety net providers who serve them.
CEO, L.A. Care
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™, Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than 2 million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.