Revised Senate Plan May Keep Tax on Wealthy

And more money would go to the opioid problem
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2017 7:17 AM CDT

(Newser) – Mitch McConnell still hopes to get a revised health care plan to the CBO on Friday so it can be assessed over the holiday break, and one compromise in the works would keep in place a tax on the wealthiest Americans. Details on that and other key points, as McConnell tries to appease moderates who think the bill is too aggressive and conservatives who think it's not aggressive enough:

  • Tax: ObamaCare imposed a 3.8% tax on investment income for individuals who make $200,000 or couples who make $250,000. The first Senate plan would have repealed the tax, but NBC News reports that it might well be back in the revised version. (It's not a done deal, however.) The tax would bring in an estimated $172 billion over the next decade.

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  • Opioid money: GOP leaders have agreed to provide $45 billion to states hit hard by the opioid epidemic, reports the Hill. That's up from $2 billion in the original draft, and could help bring aboard Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
  • HSAs: While the above two options would appeal to centrists, the Washington Post reports that McConnell might reach out to conservatives by offering bigger tax deductions for health savings accounts. Generally speaking, HSAs are used by wealthier Americans, and New York explains that conservatives favor a system in which "people use HSAs to pay for routine care, and then purchase cheap catastrophic-insurance policies for the really bad stuff."
  • Cruz idea: Sen. Ted Cruz is floating an amendment that would allow insurance carriers to sell plans that don't meet all the requirements of ObamaCare—on say, maternity benefits or mental health care—provided they sold at least one plan that did, reports the New York Times. He says it would result in lower premiums.
  • Bonus analogy: "Once in Glacier National Park I saw two porcupines making love," said Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas. "I'm assuming they produced smaller porcupines. They produced something. It has to be done carefully. That's what we're doing now." The AP fact-checks: "He is correct, it's tricky, but unlike lawmakers, porcupines have their mission figured out."
(Read more health care reform stories.)

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