Newspaper article Roll Call

Rubiocare Would Upend Traditional Health Insurance

Newspaper article Roll Call

Rubiocare Would Upend Traditional Health Insurance

Article excerpt

Sen. Marco Rubio's proposed health care alternative would dramatically alter the health insurance landscape in America -- well beyond repealing Obamacare.

The Florida Republican's health care outline was published in a Politico op-ed.

One key bit is that Rubio would limit the tax-free status of health insurance bought through employers. There are nearly 150 million people on those plans now. They would eventually have to pay taxes on some of that income unless they buy a plan cheap enough to be covered entirely by Rubio's new individual health tax credits.

"The value of these credits should increase every year, and we should set the tax preference for employer-sponsored insurance on a glide path to ensure that it will equal the level of the credits within a decade," Rubio wrote.

He'd also repeal the many tax hikes under Obamacare.

Rubiocare has similarities with many other health care plans proposed by Republicans in recent years that have never actually made it to the floor for a vote. And while lacking in details, Rubio's proposal shares some similarities with a tax-credit plan outlined by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin -- though Walker's plan doesn't mention shrinking the employer break.

One political problem is that people tend to prefer their current, often generous employer-provided plans and want to keep them. (That is, after all, why President Barack Obama made that flawed "if you like it you can keep it" promise.)

And while taxes overall would be lower, millions who don't pay income taxes on their employer health insurance benefits would necessarily see a tax increase as the tax benefit shrinks.

Five years after the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land, the number of people getting insurance through employers hasn't changed all that much. But it would if the Rubio plan became law, per the Rubio campaign.

"We expect people currently with employer-sponsored coverage to find the tax credits more appealing and therefore to no longer participate in their employer-sponsored coverage," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant emailed. …

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