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Connecticut Health Advocates Sound The Alarm Over GOP Tax Bill

Judith Stein of the Center for Medicare Advocacy

Republican efforts to change the tax code seem as if they’ll not only hit people’s pocket books, but their health care. By several independent, non-partisan estimates, the GOP plan to cut taxes is due to balloon the federal deficit by more than a trillion dollars.

Judith Stein is the founder of the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Connecticut. She's worried congressional Republicans may use that very problem to enact another, follow-up reform.

“In the immediate future you will hear, we cannot afford Medicare, we cannot afford Medicaid, we cannot afford Social Security act," she said. "That’s the second step in this dance.”

Fears for the future of the social safety net are compounded in the Senate version of the bill, which would repeal the the requirement that everyone in the U.S. purchase health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office has said it will mean 13 million fewer people will have insurance.

Maria Coutant Skinner directs the McCall Center for addiction treatment in Torrington. She's concerned about what that will mean for the strides currently being made to combat the opioid crisis.

“To make it more difficult to access those therapies at a time in our nation where we have never seen a public health emergency as dire as the one we have right now, is unacceptable,” she said.

Beyond the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans’ legislation would also remove the ability to deduct medical expenses from your taxes.

Congressman Joe Courtney of Connecticut’s 2nd District told WNPR's Where We Live, he recently heard from a constituent who pays out tens of thousands of dollars for her husband’s Alzheimer's care.

“Losing that medical expense deduction is just an enormous hit on somebody who’s doing the right thing. I mean they’re paying their bills and taking care of someone with a very serious chronic illness, which is why that deduction was created to begin with,” he said.

Republicans say they want to overhaul the tax code to give middle class families a break - but that claim has not been substantiated by independent analysis of the bill.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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