Ohio's Senators Are Sparring Over Healthcare Provisions In the GOP Tax Plan

Nov 15, 2017

Both Sen. Rob Portman (left) and Sen. Sherrod Brown are on the Finance Committee, but they disagree on what the GOP tax plan can -- and should -- do.
Credit STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is weighing-in on the Republican tax plan in the Senate, including a piece that he says was slipped-in “in the dead of night” to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Brown is unhappy about the provision to remove the individual mandate -- which requires people to buy insurance or pay a fine – after the Congressional Budget Office said it would raise premiums by 10 percent, and cause 13 million people to lose coverage.

It would also save $338 billion, which Brown says would go toward corporate tax cuts as part of the tax bill.

“Tax reform should be about cutting taxes for working families. Not increasing the cost of their health insurance. If you want to do tax cuts for the middle-class, then do tax cuts for the middle-class. This bill doesn’t do anything like that.

“If we sat down and really did real tax reform – focused on the middle-class [and] focused on making us more competitive as a country – we could do this bipartisan-ly. But there is no interest from Republican leadership in either house to make this a bipartisan effort.”

Republican Sen. Rob Portman says the corporate tax cuts will spur companies to expand and hire more people.

Both of Ohio’s Senators are on the Finance Committee, and they’re increasingly at odds over what they say the bill can and should accomplish.

But they both support a separate measure that would ensure subsidies for insurance companies for two years – subsidies that have been cut by President Trump. It would also allow states more flexibility in approving insurance plans under Obamacare. Brown adds that the proposal from Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray should be approved regardless of what happens to the individual mandate, and has major bipartisan support.

Sen. Brown adds that one bright spot in the tax bill is a tax deduction for school supplies bought by teachers. It had previously been removed but has been restored to the tax bill and now doubled.