To the editor:
I thank the Review-Journal for editorializing in favor of my bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac tax,” (“Oncoming train,” May 2 Review-Journal). But as usual, the ideological cloud under which you operate has prevented you from seeing clearly the situation which prompted its introduction.
I never said the Affordable Care Act was perfect. As is common with major legislation, adjustments need to be made over time as issues arise. That does not mean the policy should be scrapped.
Expanding access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage was the goal of the ACA, and the numbers show that it is working. More than 16 million previously uninsured Americans now have access to health coverage; 129 million with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage; 76 million in private plans have expanded access to free preventive care; and being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.
In Nevada, more than 73,000 individuals have enrolled in a health insurance plan through the marketplace. Fifty-three percent of enrollees obtained coverage for $100 or less, and Nevada’s uninsured rate has fallen to 15.7 percent, down from 20 percent in 2013. Due to the expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program under Gov. Brian Sandoval, more than 200,000 additional Nevadans have gained access to coverage.
The intention of ACA was to increase the number of people who are insured. It was never meant to penalize workers who receive good health insurance coverage for themselves and their families through their employers. That is why I introduced the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act and why I opposed the 40 percent excise tax on health care plans valued over $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families back in 2010. Unfortunately, despite the effort of 191 House Democrats, the provision was added in the Senate. We were, however, able to get the tax postponed for five years.
Now there is an opportunity to eliminate the provision before it is scheduled to go into effect in 2018. This would prevent employers from reducing benefits to keep insurance plan costs under the provision threshold, and protect families from having to shoulder higher costs to keep the coverage that fits their needs.
House Republicans have voted 56 times to repeal or undermine the ACA, despite not having an alternative to replace it. Wouldn’t it be more productive if we compromised to improve a basically sound policy that is working for many Americans? Let’s start by repealing the “Cadillac tax.”
The writer, a Democrat, represents Nevada’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.