A pair of congressmen who are also physicians, Ami Bera, M.D., D-Calif., and Charles Boustany, M.D., R-La., introduced a bipartisan bill late last month to make health care more affordable for working families, small businesses and seniors.

The Small Business and Family Relief Act would delay for two years the health insurance tax that is slated to begin next year as part of the Affordable Care Act.

“We must do everything we can to lower the skyrocketing cost of health care for middle class families,” said Bera. “The Affordable Care Act is giving millions of people health care who didn’t have it previously, but we need to work together to fix the areas of it that are problematic and make it work better for the American people. This bill would delay the collection of the health insurance tax until 2016, to allow health insurance markets time to stabilize while providing immediate relief to working families, small businesses and seniors.”

Both the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have concluded that the health insurance tax will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher premiums. The tax starts at $8.4 billion in 2014, and increases to $11.3 billion in 2015.

The way the tax is designed disproportionately affects individuals who purchase their own health insurance, small businesses and seniors with Medicare Advantage, the congressmen contend. In 2014 and 2015 alone it is expected to cost the typical family an additional $660. For Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a prescription drug plan, this tax means $220 in reduced benefits and higher out-of-pocket costs.

Bera represents Sacramento County. Born and raised in California, Bera is a physician and the only Indian American currently serving in Congress.  Boustany chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee.

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