Economists at the Urban Institute this week released a new health-care policy proposal. The plan would leave Medicare and employer-based health care coverage in place but add a new, Medicare-style “Healthy America” marketplace with public and private insurer options for everyone else. The Urban economists say their plan “is less ambitious than a single-payer system (i.e., Medicare for All), but it would get close to universal coverage with much lower increases in federal spending and less disruption for people currently enrolled in employer coverage or Medicare.”
As for the costs, the authors estimate it would be about $98 billion in the first year.
The Washington Post Editorial Board says the proposal serves as a reminder that “there are options that are neither as cruel as the GOP’s miserly repeal-and-replace nor as disruptive as the more sweeping left-wing proposals” for single-payer plans. “In other words, they are compassionate and realistic.” Read the Urban Institute’s plan here.
An analysis by Bloomberg finds that the roughly 180 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings for the first three months of the year saved almost $13 billion thanks to the corporate tax cut enacted late last year. Those companies’ effective tax rate dropped by more than 6 percentage points on average. About a third of the tax savings went to 44 financial firms.
A West Palm Beach doctor who is friends with Ike Perlmutter, the chairman of Marvel Entertainment and an informal adviser to President Trump on veterans’ issues, has held up “the biggest health information technology project in history — the transformation of the VA’s digital records system,” Politico’s Arthur Allen reports. Dr. Bruce Moskowitz “objected to the $16 billion Department of Veterans Affairs project because he doesn’t like the Cerner Corp. software he uses at two Florida hospitals, according to four former and current senior VA officials. Cerner technology is a cornerstone of the VA project. … Moskowitz’s concerns effectively delayed the agreement for months, the sources said.” Read the full story.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told The Economist that his party’s defense of the massive tax cuts passed last year may be off base: “There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” Rubio said. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”
The Tax Policy Center has updated its Marriage Bonus and Penalty Calculator for 2018, including the new GOP-passed tax law. The tool lets users calculate the difference in income taxes a couple would owe if filing as married or separately. “Most couples will pay lower income taxes after they are married than they would as two separate taxpayers (a marriage bonus), but some will pay a marriage penalty," TPC’s Daniel Berger writes. “Typically, couples with similar incomes will be hit with a penalty while those where one spouse earns significantly more than the other will almost always get a bonus for walking down the aisle.”
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will propose increasing the rent obligation for low-income households receiving federal housing subsidies, as well as creating new work requirements for subsidy recipients. Some details via The Washington Post: “Currently, tenants generally pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent or a public housing agency minimum rent not to exceed $50. The administration’s legislative proposal sets the family monthly rent contribution at 35 percent of gross income or 35 percent of their earnings by working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage -- or approximately $150 a month, three times higher than the current minimum.” (The Washington Post)