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Health insurance and health care costs have increasingly moved out of reach for many in the past few decades. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Health insurance and health care costs have increasingly moved out of reach for many in the past few decades. (Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Redistribution of Health Through the American Families Plan

The American Families Plan will make the Affordable Care Act subsidies permanent—ensuring that millions of Americans can keep their care. And the top 1% of taxpayers will pay for it.

Laura Packard

On this tax day, I am grateful for the Affordable Care Act. The ACA saved my life when I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer four years ago. Obamacare aka the Affordable Care Act was originally paid for by taxes on the rich and Big Pharma. The largest breakthrough in health coverage we've seen in the last several decades was funded by updating our tax code, so the most affluent contributed to the benefit of all Americans.

Passing the Affordable Care Act was a good first step in equalizing opportunity and covering Americans who did not or could not get health insurance through their jobs—the self-employed like me, small business employees, low wage frontline employees and essential workers, stay at home caregivers and more. But the ACA didn't go far enough for too many of us.

Health insurance and health care costs have increasingly moved out of reach for many in the past few decades. Only the most wealthy could afford the avalanche of costs from a severe accident or unfortunate diagnosis. A $500 expense would put most Americans into debt, but the average insurance deductible has doubled since 2010, to over a thousand dollars. No wonder that millions of Americans cannot afford health insurance, or to use the insurance they have.

We must unrig our tax system, rebuild our economy, and build back better with a health care system that everyone can afford by passing the Biden infrastructure plans now. Since the 1970s, the 1% has benefited vastly more than the average American. Money has collected at the top, while income has been almost flat for everybody else. Trump's tax cuts showered the rich in more funds. Billionaires are paying a lower tax rate than the working class. The stratification of wealth has led to a stratification of health too.

As executive director of Get America Covered, a non-profit organization that does awareness and outreach for the ACA, I've heard stories from Americans desperately seeking care. I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford my ACA policy, which paid for the six months of chemotherapy and month of radiation treatments I needed to be alive and in remission today. But many families like mine were unable to afford the health insurance policies they now have access to through Healthcare.gov.

So President Biden and Congress came together to pass the American Rescue Plan, which made health insurance through the Affordable Care Act much more affordable for all, regardless of their level of income.

This is good news—but there's a catch. The ACA subsidies in the American Rescue Plan are only for 2 years, which means they will expire at the end of next year. This means right around election time next year, higher costs would kick in for millions of Americans. Many would be forced to drop their insurance plans for the following year.

However, the American Families Plan will make those subsidies permanent—ensuring that millions of Americans can keep their care. And the top 1% of taxpayers will pay for it.

Biden's American Families Plan would remove the slanted tax breaks that the wealthiest of Americans benefited from in the Trump tax plan, and increase capital gains taxes so that billionaires and multi-millionaires who live off of investment income have to pay the same taxes as those of us who earn our wages. The American Jobs Plan will also make sure that corporations pay their fair share, eliminate tax loopholes used by hedge funds that encourage financial gambling with our economy, remove incentives to offshore jobs, and more.

We need this revenue for our human infrastructure—from building out health care facilities, to providing paid family and medical leave, and home and community based services to allow seniors and people with disabilities to stay in their homes.

The infrastructure plans are incredibly popular—not only with a majority of Americans, but taxing corporations and investment income is popular with the wealthy too! Now all we need is the will to enact the American Jobs and Families plans.

America has a chance to fix our broken system. We live in a moment in time in which everything hangs in the balance. We can use this opportunity to share the wealth so that everyone will benefit, or we can choose an increasingly divided country, where billionaires live like kings with yachts inside their yachts and thousands of Americans die every year without the medical care or prescription drugs they need to survive.

We must unrig our tax system, rebuild our economy, and build back better with a health care system that everyone can afford by passing the Biden infrastructure plans now. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Laura Packard

Laura Packard is a Denver-based health care advocate and founder of Health Care Voices, a non-profit grassroots organization for adults with serious medical conditions, senior advisor to Be a Hero and co-chair of Health Care Voter. Follow her on Twitter: @lpackard

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