Democrats, health officials, oppose Republican tax plan

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware opposes the GOP tax plan and its impact on the Affordable Care Act. (Zoë Read/WHYY)

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware opposes the GOP tax plan and its impact on the Affordable Care Act. (Zoë Read/WHYY)

Leading Delaware Democrats and health officials are voicing concerns about the latest Republican tax plan that would eliminate key components of the Affordable Care Act.

During a Monday press conference, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Christiana Care CEO Janice Nevin said the elimination of the individual mandate would have dire effects on Americans’ health.

“We gotta be smarter than that,” Carper said. “The American people want us to be smarter than that, they want us to work together—and if we do that we will do the right thing.”

The “Obamacare” mandate requires individuals to pay a fine if they don’t purchase health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates Republican efforts to eliminate it would save more than $300 billion over 10 years—but 13 million Americans would lose health coverage.

In addition to the mandate repeal, Nevin said several other aspects of the bill would jeopardize the health of the American people. The version passed in the House Thursday would reverse the medical expense deduction, which allows tax payers to deduct out-of-pocket costs of medical expenses greater than 10 percent of their income.

“Almost 9 million Americans claimed this deduction in 2015,” Nevin said. “Without this provision there would be little relief for those overwhelmed with medical costs, and as we know, that’s the leading cost for personal bankruptcy.”

The tax plan also proposes the elimination of student loan interest payment reductions, which Nevin said would make medical and nursing degrees less affordable as the need for primary care and nurses increases as professionals retire and patients start to age.

Congress will vote on the bill when they return from Thanksgiving break. Carper said he believes speaking out will educate the public and encourage Republicans and Democrats to work together.

“There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of disagreement about what’s at stake here. You need young and healthy people getting health coverage in the exchange, but unfortunately our President has sought to destabilize the exchanges to make it harder for people to get information on how to get health care on the exchanges and take away the incentive for people to sign up,” he said.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.