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Letter: GOP tax bill isn't much of a holiday gift

To the editor,

The president is touting the Republican tax bill as a Christmas gift to the American public, but for many of us, the gain may be offset by higher health insurance costs.

Published analyses of the tax bill say that corporations and wealthier Americans will get most of the benefits. A giant tax cut will obviously cause a giant budget deficit, and this could trigger automatic cuts to numerous federal government programs, including Medicare. The tax bill also includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act mandate that requires all Americans to have health insurance.

When ACA was designed, this mandate was added to enable insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. To keep their costs down, the insurance companies need healthy people to pay premiums as well as sick ones. Exclusion of coverage for pre-existing conditions was their only defense against people who wait until they are sick to buy health insurance. So repeal of the mandate will put the insurance companies in a very difficult position, and they will undoubtedly respond by raising premiums.

It appears that our political leaders believe enhancing the wealth of some is more important than ensuring affordable health care for all. While we are grateful for a Christmas gift that benefits at least some Americans, we can hope our leaders will adjust their priorities in the year to come, inspired by the person whose birth we celebrate on Christmas, who brought good news to the poor, who preached "alas for you who are rich," and who spent a good deal of his public life curing people of their illnesses, free of charge.

T. E. O'Neil

East Grand Forks