I just received a letter from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, dated November 20, discussing her belief that the individual mandate aspect of the ACA is untenable because of its impacts on employers.
Unfortunately, the entire ACA will crumble without the individual mandate. If healthy young people are not required to join the market place, most will likely opt out. We need their participation to keep the pools strong. Repealing the individual mandate is the same as repealing the ACA. Cuts in funding for Medicaid, Medicare, education, and other services that benefit thousands of Alaskans will, sadly, accompany such a repeal.
Murkowski previously stated:
“The national debt and deficit is one of the most important issues facing our country. Since the 2008 Recession, the ratio of national debt as a share of our national economy, or gross domestic product (GDP), has reached astronomical limits — as much as 78 percent of our GDP. At current rates, the national debt amounts to more than $56,000 per citizen. This is unsustainable and threatens the stability of the United States as the world’s strongest economic power.
In addressing health care, an intensely personal issue to all Americans and one with significant impact on our nation’s economy, it’s imperative that everyone is heard. This is why I consistently advocated for regular order while the Senate health care proposals were being drafted so ideas from both parties could be considered and thoroughly examined.”
I understand the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate is one aspect of the current tax bill, heading to the Senate floor. With regard to health care in Alaska, that is unacceptable. Ignoring Alaska’s huge problems with health care, including opioid addiction, based on her belief in the Alexander–Murray “bipartisan compromise“ is phony. That legislation is not going to fix the problem.
Voting for this tax bill would be a destructive partisan action that will increase our national debt by at least $1.4 trillion. Repealing the ACA’s individual mandate will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket. That hurts middle class Alaskans; it is clear the middle class will not benefit from this bill; on the contrary, the very wealthy and corporations will do quite well, but the rest of us will pay more in medical spending and in taxes as a result of the deletion of individual exemptions and itemized deductions. Not to mention the temporary nature of some individual cuts, contrasted with the permanence of those benefiting corporations and the very rich. Eliminating the Estate Tax, touted as huge progress by those backing this bill, will benefit on the order of 0.02 percent of Americans, the wealthiest in the country.
Senator Murkowski is considering attaching riders to the tax bill, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rules. Both of these actions would boost her in the eyes of certain donors, including big oil and the logging industry. I hope she is aware that not all Alaskans favor drilling in the Arctic or roads in the Tongass. I, for one, do not, and I am an Alaskan voter.
I believe Murkowski is one person in politics who has a conscience and cares genuinely about the well-being of those who are less able to speak for themselves. I hope she will not allow her partisan roots to pull her into the herd voting for this tax bill. I urge your readers to ask the senator to vote NO on this tax bill, as it will profoundly reduce the quality of life of poor and middle class Alaskans.
• Luann McVey is a retired teacher in Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.