The Senate is considering a tax on employer health plans as part of its version of the House’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The tax would raise billions of dollars in revenue. Under current law, employees’ health insurance costs aren’t taxed as income and can be deducted by employers. Economists argue that tax policy is an incentive for generous insurance packages, spiking healthcare costs. The tax has some support in Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s own health proposal included a tax on employer plans. But prior efforts to end the tax break have failed under pressure from business groups and lawmakers who worry about backlash from constituents. About 178 million Americans get their health coverage through their employers.
Regulators late last week opened a 10-day period for health insurance companies to submit new rates or bow out of New Mexico’s state-run exchange. Though the rates have not been disclosed, people shopping for insurance under the Affordable Care Act could see higher prices and fewer choices next year, as key federal insurance subsidies and enforcement provisions are left in political limbo. About 55,000 New Mexico residents buy their insurance through the state exchange, known as be-Wellnm, and 200,000 are eligible to participate.
The California Senate late last week passed legislation approving a singlepayer plan to cover all residents in the state. The bill would ostensibly eliminate private health insurance and provide government-funded health coverage for everyone in the state. A state analysis found the program would cost about $400 billion. The bill, however, does not include language or details on how to cover those costs. The analysis found that much of the cost would be offset by existing state, federal and private spending on health coverage, but total healthcare costs would increase by an estimated $50 billion to $100 billion a year.