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Brown And Portman Spar Over Health Care Provisions In GOP Tax Bill

Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown
J. Scott Applewhite

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

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,” Brown said. “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.”

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.

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

But both Brown and Portman 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 subsidy proposal from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray should be approved regardless of what happens to the individual mandate, and has major bipartisan support.

One bright spot in the tax bill, Brown said, is a tax deduction for school supplies bought by teachers. It had previously been removed but was restored to the tax bill and now doubled.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.