The Affordable Care Act is making headlines again. The Congressional Budget Office issued its latest report on Wednesday which forecasts that 50% more Americans than originally projected (in 2010) or close to 6 million will pay the tax penalties imposed by President Obama’s health care reform bill rather than choose from one of the mandated insurance plans. Incidentally, the office is a nonpartisan entity. But its findings have sparked even more debate and even new law-suits from those in opposition to these mandates. Oklahoma, who originally challenged the constitutionality of the mandated health insurance, is now suing over the legality of the IRS imposing penalties at the state level questioning whether it’s beyond the scope of their rights to do so.
Proponents however, say that this analysis should change nothing when it comes to embracing healthcare reform. The mandated tax penalties have no bearing on those deemed to be categorized at the poverty level—because you need to essentially make enough money to file taxes to be penalized for opting out. Additionally, the premiums cannot equal to more than 8% of your current income.If not, you are exempt. Proponents contend that if a plan works within your income and you choose not to buy in, you will be penalized. Supporters believe that it is absolutely just and correct because states will no longer subsidize individuals who have a very viable option for health insurance and just refuse to buy in.
Critics have been very quick in light of the recent report, to bolster the “con” argument. They allege that Obama blatantly lied when he said that he would not raise taxes on the middle class and poor. When indeed, they say, that is exactly what he is doing. If 6 million Americans will likely be paying up to $1200 a year in tax penalties (on the high end) if they refuse to buy in, isn’t that a hike in taxes? They argue that just because you paint it as a tax fine which you have the choice to not incur, it doesn’t make it any less of a regular old tax hike. Perfume on a pig as Palin would say back in the days when she was still front and center. Critics allege that “the choice” argument is not exactly fair since some Americans fall just above the poverty guidelines but still live paycheck to paycheck. They simply cannot afford to add premiums and deductibles to their budget. The opponents’ bottom line: the government has no place in an individual’s choice to buy insurance.
After the report was released, Erin Britt of the Health and Human Services Department, wasted no time in bringing the issue back to center. Says Britt,”This (analysis) doesn’t change the basic fact that the individual responsibility policy will only affect people who can afford health care but choose not to buy it. We’re no longer going to subsidize the care of those who can afford to buy insurance but make a choice not to buy it.”
Even as the Supreme Court upheld constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, legal entities are finding new ways to challenge the bill. With nearly two more years until the Act takes effect fully, it seems that the furor over its constitutionality and ethics grows. And as the right vows to repeal the bill, the left claims victory. One might ask himself: why is the conversation about “alleviating stress over paying for healthcare in this country,” causing so many headaches on both sides of the aisle?