Concealed within the 123 pages of legislative verbiage and dense boilerplate of the House Republican bill repealing the Affordable Care Act are not a few hard-to-find nuggets. Here’s one crying out for exposure: The bill encourages health insurance companies to pay their top executives more.
It does so by removing the ACA’s limit on corporate tax deductions for executive pay. The cost to the American taxpayer of eliminating this provision: well in excess of $70 million a year. In the reckoning of the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank that analyzed the limitation in 2014, that would have been enough that year to buy dental insurance under the ACA for 262,000 Americans, or pay the silver plan deductibles for 28,000.
As part of an effort to rein in soaring executive pay, the ACA decreed that health insurance companies could deduct from their taxes only $500,000 of the pay of each top executive. That’s a tighter restriction than the limit imposed on other corporations, which is $1 million per executive. The ACA closed a loophole for insurance companies enjoyed by other corporations, which could deduct the cost of stock options and other “performance-based” pay; for insurance companies, the deduction cap is $500,000 per executive, period.
The idea was to signal that the ACA, which cemented health insurance companies into the center of American healthcare, wasn’t a pure giveaway to the industry.
“Consumers across America should know that when they pay their hard-earned dollars to cover the soaring cost of premiums, they are not just chipping in to pay for the CEOs’ next new yacht,” said then-Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
The House Republican bill repeals the compensation limit as of the end of this year. The GOP hasn’t exactly trumpeted this provision; it’s six lines on page 67 of the measure, labeled “Remuneration from Certain Insurers” and referring only to the obscure IRS code section imposing the limit. Repeal of the provision apparently means that the insurers will be able to deduct $1 million in cash per executive, plus the cost of “performance-based” stock awards and options, like other corporations.
This is just how Republicans roll.
Take money from poor people so that rich folk can afford that 3rd yacht.
They really should have been drowned at birth, all of them.