Legislation to Exempt Puerto Rico from Health Insurance Tax Introduced
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer González, along with Congressman Carlos Curbelo and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, both of Florida, introduced legislation to provide relief from the health insurance tax (HIT), which was designed to pay for some provisions that patients on the island do not benefit from.
The legislation, H.R. 4619, would amend the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Section 9010 by providing temporary relief to health insurance providers in Puerto Rico from paying the tax, which they say has been passed on to consumers in the forms of higher premiums. Residents of the territories are ineligible to use the ACA’s marketplaces to obtain insurance, but must pay the tax.
“This bill puts an end to the imposition of the HIT on insurers resulting from the Affordable Care Act, which at the end of the road, is borne by the insured through the increase in premiums,” the resident commissioner said in joint statement.
“In the case of Puerto Rico, the HIT has had the effect of increasing premiums by 2% and of further annual increases. The big problem is that this tax was meant to be used for the health insurance exchange, as well as to provide credits and subsidies for other programs for which the island does not qualify or benefit from; nonetheless, we have to pay the tax,” she added.
González said the estimated HIT that would correspond to Puerto Rico in 2016 is $202 million and for 2017 is $ 249 million
“Most of the Affordable Care Act doesn’t impact Puerto Rico, but the Health Insurance Tax is one of a small number of provisions that does, and it’s hurting families in Puerto Rico who are trying to recover from hurricanes Irma and María,” Curbelo added in the release.
“While I believe that the HIT functions as a tax that drives up the costs for all Americans, Puerto Ricans are especially burdened by the tax given the way the ACA uniquely treats the island,” the Florida representative said.
Murphy also denounced Puerto Rico’s treatment under the ACA.
“American citizens in Puerto Rico are treated unfairly under the Affordable Care Act due to the island’s status as a U.S. territory,” Murphy said. “I am proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to repeal this tax in order to help our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, whose longstanding challenges have worsened as a result of Hurricane María.”