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Price Defends Tax Cuts For Health Insurance Executives

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has backed a proposal in the Republicans' health care reform bill that would cut taxes for the CEOs of health insurers.

He made the comments at a CNN town hall March 15, according to The Hill.

CNN's Dana Bash asked Price to justify giving health care CEOs a tax cut. Price responded that the Obamacare tax regulation was a punishment on executives.

The rule placed a $500,000 limit on tax deductions for health care CEOs.

"This is the federal government before saying to a certain sector of society, a certain individual, you can't make what that company is willing to pay you for your services," said Price, The Hill reported.

"That doesn't sound like America to me," he added.

The Health and Human Services Secretary went on to explain why he thought the rule was unfair.

"What we're saying is we ought not to single out certain individuals in this nation and have the federal government have the power to say, 'You're going to be treated differently from that individual, even though you make the same amount of money,'" Price said.

The tax cut supported by Price would be part of the American Health Care Act, which Republicans are hoping to pass in Congress to replace Obamacare.

According to an analysis of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office, the proposed law contains tax cuts amounting to almost $1 trillion over the next decade.

The bill removes $145 billion in taxes on health insurers, $158 billion on investment income for top earners, $25 billion on drug companies and $20 billion on medical device companies, according to The New York Times.

However, opposition to the bill from within the Republican Party has grown. Around 60 representatives in the House have expressed reservations about the reform proposal, along with 17 members of the Senate.

The Republicans can only afford to lose 21 votes in the House and two in the Senate if they are to pass the measure.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that Republicans plan to use a budget tool known as reconciliation. This enables them to bypass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate required to avoid a filibuster. But reconciliation can only be used when the budget is being debated, meaning time is short for the Republicans.

"This is probably the last best chance for Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act and put something in its place that is a conservative vision for health care," Stephen Northrup, a health care analyst, told The Washington Post.

The Post suggested that if the bill fails to pass, Republican lawmakers could sideline health care reform because they will have to move on to deal with tax reform.

Sources: The Hill, The Washington Post, The New York Times / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

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