The Senate tax bill would provide more tax benefits to higher-income Americans than the middle-class or lower-income people. But in another odd quirk of the plan, which now also repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate, federal spending on lower-income Americans is also projected to significantly decline.
Released by the Congressional Budget Office late on Friday, it’s a new finding that further exacerbates the Republican plan’s tendency to reward wealthier Americans at the expense of the rest.
This shift in federal spending stems from the Senate’s decision to add the repeal of the individual mandate, the health care law’s requirement that Americans have insurance or pay a penalty to their bill. The CBO already reported the mandate’s repeal would lead to 13 million fewer Americans having insurance and a $338 billion total federal spending cut by 2027, compared to current law.
But that drop in Americans with insurance would have residual effects on federal spending outside of reduced spending on Obamacare’s tax subsidies, which people can use to buy private coverage on the law’s marketplaces. The CBO calculated those other aftereffects — excluding the cut to tax subsidies, which are available to people making 400 percent of poverty, about $48,000 for an individual — in its new report.
As this table makes clear, the net result is less federal spending for lower-income Americans and more spending for higher-income Americans:
The CBO estimated that Medicaid spending in 2021 would be cut by $18 billion, versus current law; millions fewer Americans are projected to be enrolled in the program without the mandate. There would also be reductions in federal payments for cost-sharing reductions, which compensate insurers for required discounts that they must provide to lower-income customers, and another Obamacare fund that allows states to set up their own insurance programs for poorer residents.