Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A progressive deal for the GOP's age-based tax credits

NHSAccording to a leaked draft of the House Republicans' health care proposal, they are planning to replace the Affordable Care Act's income based exchange subsidies with age based tax credits ranging from $2,000 for younger adults to $4,000 for older adults.

Liberal critics have rightly pointed out that $4,000 isn't enough money to allow lower income older Americans to buy any kind of decent coverage in our system. This is true, but it is mostly true because for decades both parties have done effectively nothing to stop the health care industry from ripping people off. We let hospitals, doctors, labs, and drug companies radically overcharge Americans for basically everything. In a sane healthcare system, $2,000-$4,000 would be an ample amount to provide coverage. For example, these tax credits would effectively cover the entire cost of basic health insurance premiums in Switzerland. By comparison, in 2014 the UK's per capita health care spending was only $3,935.

So I offer this tongue-in-cheek progressive compromise with Congressional Republicans: In exchange for progressive Democrats' support for the Republican ACA replacement law, the GOP agrees to replace the age based tax credit of $2,000-$4,000 with tax credits pegged to whatever the United Kingdom's NHS spends on an average person in that age group to take care of all their health care needs without any deductible. This should please Republicans by keeping the size of the tax credits at roughly the same level they've proposed. But this way, progressives will have created a constant and direct reminder for people of how horribly overpriced our private insurance system is.

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