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By Blair Burnett, <em>ACCC Policy Analyst</em>
This week Congress secured their first major legislative win of the new administration – passage of their tax reform bill on Wednesday, December 20, followed by passing temporary short-term spending legislation on Thursday, December 21, that averted an end-of-year government shutdown. Within this sweeping $1.5 trillion-dollar tax cut legislation are several key healthcare provisions that will affect the landscape in early 2018 and beyond.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Individual Mandate: The conferenced bill—passed by both houses of Congress earlier this week—includes repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, effective January 1, 2019. Independent experts estimate that repealing the individual mandate will increase premiums by 10 percent and leave 13 million more Americans uninsured by 2026.
Potential Triggering of Sequestration: Ultimately Congress did not include language in the final tax reform bill that would forgo “PAYGO” rules and avoid across-the-board cuts to federal programs, including an estimated $25 billion cut to Medicare in 2018.
Medical Expense Deduction Expanded: Instead of eliminating the medical expense deduction, as outlined in the House version of the tax bill, the final legislation expands the deduction for two years.
Tuition Taxation of Graduate Student Benefits: Unlike the provision included within the first iterations of the tax bill, the final legislation will not end tax breaks on student loans or levy a tax on tuition waivers for graduate students.
Congress listened to some concerns and not others, as outlined in ACCC’s letter to Congress before the final tax bill was conferenced.
It was a busy end to 2017, and we hear more is in store for oncology in the new year. Stay tuned for an update from ACCC’s advocacy team on what we expect in 2018.