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Jones backs bi-partisan bill to delay health insurance tax increase

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

Sen. Doug Jones joined a bi-partisan group of fellow senators in cosponsoring legislation that would delay a Obamacare fee that could raise health care costs for providers and patients.

S. 172,  The Health Insurance Tax Relief Act, would provide a two-year delay of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) that was created by the Affordable Care Act. The tax is a fee to health insurers on their health policy premiums that increases costs for nearly everyone in the marketplace, from seniors to small businesses.

“Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care. Unfortunately, the high cost of health insurance continues to strain the pocketbooks of Alabama families and job creators alike,” Jones said.

“Lowering those costs is a top priority for me and that’s why I am proud to help introduce this bipartisan bill to suspend the Health Insurance Tax for an additional two years. By pausing this tax for another two years, our legislation will help lower premiums for small businesses, individuals, and seniors receiving coverage through Medicare Advantage.”

Jones is joined by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who are also cosponsoring S.172.

In a news release, the senators claimed that if allowed to proceed, the Health Insurance Tax would levy $16 billion in fees on health insurance. That could  increase premiums by 2.2 percent or $196 per person in the individual market, $479 per family in the small-group market, $458 in the large-group market and $157 for Medicaid premiums on average nationwide, they said. 

According to actuarial analysis conducted by Oliver Wyman, without the HIT moratorium in place for plan year 2019, Medicare Advantage premiums would have increased by roughly 55.7% from $393.05 to $612.09. There are roughly 21 million seniors and individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare Advantage that would impacted by this tax specifically.

Jones recently heard from small business owners about the implications of the tax during a roundtable discussion in Birmingham. Business leaders told Jones the Health Insurance Tax could negatively impact their employees, including seniors on Medicare and middle-income families. Jones told the roundtable group he was committed to finding ways to delay the Health Insurance Tax.

Caroline Beck is a reporter living in Montgomery. You can reach her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @CarolineBeckADN.

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