Up to six million Americans will face a penalty for not having health insurance when the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect in 2016, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Wednesday.
The report was completed by the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), a congressional committee mandated under the Internal Revenue Code to administer taxes.
Total collections on the penalty would be about $7 billion in 2016 and would average about $8 billion per year over the 2017-2022 period, the report added.
Republican leaders quickly attacked the Obama administration over the report, saying the number of Americans impacted by the penalty signaled the legislation wasn't in the interest of the American people.
"This latest CBO report adds another example of a broken promise," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a press call hosted by the campaign to elect Mitt Romney Thursday. "This is a bad law...It needs to be repealed and replaced."
"The way to do that is to elect Gov. Romney," Jindal added, saying, "The President thinks he's done his best...His best isn't good enough for America."
The Romney campaign, which refers to the penalty as a tax increase, a terminology difference still misunderstood by many affected by the payment, also said the former Massachusetts Governor would "replace [the Affordable Care Act] with common-sense, patient-centered reforms that strengthen our health care system."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed the campaign's tax stance, stating, "If Americans knew that failure to comply resulted in a tax hike, it never would have passed."
Claims the penalty will affect middle-class families to a higher degree also found some credence in the CBO report. Individuals and families are expected to pay the higher of one of two amounts: a $695 flat fee or 2.5 percent of household income.
Lower-income houses will be subject to the flat dollar penalty of $695 per person or will have the opportunity to opt out of the penalty because they do not file taxes, are members of Native American tribes, or the $695 penalty would exceed eight percent of their income.
Most of the families and individuals affected by the penalty will therefore be households with income exceeding 400 percent of the poverty level set by the federal government (FPL), or middle-class families.
For example, a family of four living at 300 percent above the FPL have total income of $69,150 (48 contiguous states), according to 2012 FPL statistics.
The report also revised previous estimates of the numbers of Americans affected, increasing the number from four to six million.
The upwardly revised estimate is due to the effects of new legislation since the initial estimate was carried out in mid-2010, increased unemployment (and therefore higher numbers of uninsured people) and technical updates to the CBO's estimates.
by RTT Staff Writer
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