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Tax Bill Passes Senate

December 03, 2017

The Senate this weekend passed major tax legislation that leaves the health care field, and certainly VAHHS, with deep questions and concerns about policies included in the bill.

The next step is for the Senate and House to reconcile their versions of the tax plan. For more detailed comparison of the bills, click here.  For now, here are our greatest and most immediate concerns about the just-passed Senate bill:

  • Repeal individual mandate – The bill repeals the ACA’s individual mandate, which is the core of that law. It spreads risk by making sure sick and healthy alike are under the coverage umbrella. With the Senate bill, individuals will no longer be charged a penalty for not having health insurance. Many people will drop out of coverage, leading to higher premiums and renewed growth in uncompensated care.
  • Loss of health coverage – It is estimated that at least four million people nationwide will lose their health insurance next year if the Senate’s bill becomes law. In Vermont as elsewhere, this brings uncertainty for families selecting coverage, insurers navigating the market and pricing plans, and providers’ ability to manage the shifting landscape.
  • Threat to tax-exempt bondsThe House-passed tax bill would revoke entirely the tax exemption for the private activity bonds hospitals, schools and others use to finance infrastructure projects. Both House and Senate bills revise the tax code so that hospitals would have far greater difficulty refinancing outstanding debt and obtaining more affordable interest rates. This policy is the wrong direction and a major problem for VAHHS membership and the people of Vermont.

In short, both the House and Senate bills include provisions with serious and harmful implications for patients, providers and Vermont’s communities:

  • For patients and families, there will be less insurance coverage and it will come at a higher cost.
  • For hospitals working on health reform and investing in value-based care, these troubling developments make our shared work all the more difficult.
  • And for Vermont and its communities, the tax bill means fewer infrastructure improvements at a higher cost.

Furthermore, the increased deficit created by the tax bill will likely result in future cuts to social programs, including Medicare. As this legislation moves through the Congress, we will keep you posted on the latest developments and how you can make your voice heard as legislation advances.