Washington--Today, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett spoke at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing about the small amount of people who would actually choose not to purchase health insurance and pay the tax.
"All three of the experts who've offered insight this morning at the request of our Republican colleagues are in the same situation as 98.8 percent of the American people," said Rep. Doggett. "They will not have to pay the tax of which they complain."
Rep. Doggett: Ms. Severino (Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel, Policy Director, Judicial Crisis Network), do you have health insurance yourself?
Ms. Severino: Yes, I do
Rep. Doggett: Mr. Casey (Lee A. Casey, Partner, Baker Hostetler), are you covered by a group health insurance policy?
Mr. Casey: Yes, I am.
Rep. Doggett: Mr. Bradbury (Steven G. Bradbury, Partner, Dechert LLP), are you also covered by group health insurance?
Mr. Bradbury: Yes, sir.
Rep. Doggett: I'd like to put a chart up and ask Mr. Dellinger (Walter Dellinger, Partner, O'Melveny & Myers LLP), are you covered by health insurance, sir?
Mr. Dellinger: Mr. Doggett, I am eligible for Medicare, thank you.
Rep. Doggett: I am impressed by that, as I am by all of your testimony. You really made the point of this chart, but I wanted to demonstrate it graphically, because all three of the experts who've offered insight this morning--some at the request of our Republican colleagues--are in the same situation as 98.8 percent of the American people in that they will not have to pay the tax of which they complain. You've just pointed out again a really big segment of our population, Mr. Dellinger, who like yourself, there is not a single person who is on Medicare or about to come on Medicare by the time that this Act becomes fully effective who would be subject to this tax, right?
Mr. Dellinger: That is correct.
Rep. Doggett: And anyone who is covered by group health insurance policy, whether through a public or private employer, they won't be affected by this tax?
Mr. Dellinger: I've always been struck by the notion that this relatively modest incentive to have insurance coverage was seen as the end of liberty as we know it. If you go to work in the economy and you earn $18,000 a year and are subject to federal income taxes and FICA taxes, you're told you have to pay 7.5 percent to Social Security for your old age sustenance, you're told you have another percentage to pay for Medicare for your health care after 65, and if you don't have insurance coverage, you're going to have to pay up to 2.5 percent as an additional sum to be paid... why would anybody look at that and say, "Well the 7.5 percent for Social Security is fine, the percentage for Medicare is fine, but this last percentage I would have to pay is the end of liberty as we know it and I would have to move to another country."
Rep. Doggett: Mr. Dellinger, your point is so significant and you have made it previously that while the names may have changed on the groups, the same crowd, the same thinking that opposed Social Security, that opposed Medicare is the same crowd that is out there opposing the Affordable Healthcare Act, even though less than 2 percent of the American people would be directly affected by what Justice Roberts, President Bush's appointee to the Supreme Court, said was a tax rather than a penalty.
Now, with reference to that tax, I understand Mr. Bradbury's testimony to be that even for the less than 2 percent of the people that are covered, the tax is so low, so modest that Congress may choose to raise it in the future. From your testimony, I believe that in the first year, $95 is the total amount you would pay if you are among the approximately 2 percent who choose not to buy insurance even though you have the capacity to afford it yet prefer to shift your health care costs to somebody else.
Mr. Dellinger: That is correct.
Rep. Doggett: And with reference to the estimate of this 1.2 percent [who would pay the tax], that was done by the independent Congressional Budget Office on the final bill as it became law after it passed the Senate, so perhaps it goes up or goes down a little bit... it is only an estimate, but it is a very small number of people who are affected.
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