NORTON META TAG

24 March 2017

A Food Festival Celebrates The Rebirth Of Jewish Life In Berlin 24MAR17

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ONE thing that can bring almost anyone together is food. How long will it be before meals and festivals like these can be organized in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza? Or in the Ukraine? Lebanon? Sudan? N. Ireland and Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia? From +NPR .....

A Food Festival Celebrates The Rebirth Of Jewish Life In Berlin

March 24, 20172:19 PM ET
Last Friday night, the Berlin bookstore Shakespeare and Sons hosted a Sabbath dinner as part of the pre-kickoff activities for Nosh Berlin, the German capital's first Jewish food festival. Guests at the bookstore included many non-Jewish Germans who purchased tickets.
Veronica Zaragovia for NPR
Inside a Berlin bookstore on a recent Friday night, an unusual scene unfolded. Thirty people sat around a long table, sharing Israeli-Moroccan dishes like matbucha (a side of roasted red peppers and tomatoes), ptitim (a toasted pasta shaped in little balls) and a modern twist on the traditional challah or egg bread — a vegan one filled with dry fruits, quinoa, herbs and pomegranate juice.
They were celebrating the end of the week and the beginning of a day of rest, known as the Sabbath in Jewish communities. While observant Jews commonly have a Sabbath dinner on Friday nights called Shabbat, many of the guests were non-Jewish Germans who purchased tickets.
The Shabbat celebration in the book store was a pop-up dinner organized by a new Israeli business called Kiddush in conjunction with the March 19 start of Berlin's first-ever Jewish food week celebration called Nosh Berlin.
Other Nosh Berlin events include a discussion about German-Jewish coffeehouse culture of the 1920s and dinners featuring Yemeni, Persian and Roman Jewish recipes.
Moroccan-Israeli dishes and challah are served at a Jewish Sabbath pop-up dinner party hosted at a Berlin bookstore, part of the festivities surrounding Nosh Berlin, the city's first Jewish food festival.
Verónica Zaragovia for NPR
"Food is always a warm and welcoming way to approach a culture," says Laurel Kratochvila. She teamed up with food writer Liv Fleischhacker to organize Nosh Berlin to unite Jews and non-Jews of all backgrounds.
Since the Holocaust led to the extermination of some 6 million European Jews, Germany has striven to encourage its citizens to understand the history of what happened. "We were taught a lot about the Second World War and the Holocaust, and that leads to a feeling of enough-is-enough at some point," says Fleischhacker. She wants people to learn about different aspects of German Jewish life, not only the tragedy. "I think there needs to be a bit of a modernization, a youthfulness to it — a different approach."
The organizers, both of whom are Jewish, also want to stir Jewish pride in Berlin.
A close up of ruggelach, cookies popular among Jews of Ashkenazi, or Eastern European descent, that were among the Jewish food items sold by the Fine Bagels food stall at Berlin's historic market hall, March 19, 2017. This was part of Nosh Berlin, the first Jewish food festival in the German capital.
Verónica Zaragovia for NPR
"Jews shaped Berlin before the Holocaust," Fleischhacker says. "There should be a celebration of the past and of the future."
Before the Holocaust, Jews didn't really open up restaurants serving food labeled as "Jewish." Jews were well integrated, certainly in cities. "There is no such thing as German-Jewish culture," says Cilly Kugelmann, program director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin. "German Jewish culture is mainstream culture. It's classical music, it's [Johann Wolfgang von] Goethe and [Friedrich] Schiller. It's not an ethnic culture."
Also, German Jews didn't eat the Jewish foods that Jews from Eastern Europe did — Ashkenazi foods like matzo ball soup or blintzes (crepes with cheese.) They ate mostly German food. Sometimes it's even hard to distinguish the two. Germans, for example, eat fried potato pancakes and call them Kartoffelpuffer. Jews call them latkes.
Still, the Nazis ensured Jews had a hard time eating Jewish food, anyways. When they seized power in 1933, one of the first laws they passed banned the kosher slaughter of animals.
In the post-War era, Jews did go into the restaurant industry, "but definitely not kosher food because you wanted to make money," explains Kugelmann, whose own parents owned a restaurant and only cooked kosher food at home. "And you had so few Jews here that you would never be able to make money with a kosher food restaurant."
Not until the 1970s did the Jewish community start to grow in any measurable way, with the first wave of Jews coming from the former Soviet Union, where Judaism, like all religions, was oppressed. That immigration to Germany lasted through the USSR's breakup in the early 1990s.
Thousands of Israelis have moved to Berlin in the last five to 10 years. Some cite as motivation the high cost of living in Israel; others say they disagree with Israeli politics. Some of these immigrants qualify for German citizenship if their German Jewish ancestors were persecuted by the Nazis. In 2015, the German government estimated that about 4,000 Israelis live in Berlin, but other estimates suggest there are up to 20,000, according to the American Jewish Committee Berlin.
Yuval Belhans of the Kiddush Shabbat pop-up project is one of them, and so is his business partner, Maayan Meir. Meir thinks serving Jewish food has been rare here until recently because "people don't like to mix guilt and food," she says. But she says the more that Israelis move here and open restaurants, the more normal it will seem.
Kratochvila of Nosh Berlin is optimistic that the Jewish food scene will evolve beyond the basics. "The more you have, the more exciting it gets," she says. "You can't stay at a base level if you have competition."
Jews will likely keep moving here. The city is welcoming, despite an increase in anti-Semitic acts in recent years. The Berlin Police Department records anti-Semitic acts according to their political motivation. In the first half of 2015, the department logged 62 incidents by right-wing groups. In 2016, it went up to 64. While no one knows the cause for sure, during this time, media reports covered anti-Semitic remarks made by members of the extreme-right party Alternative for Germany, which had been gaining public support.
Another entity in Berlin that tracks anti-Semitic acts is called the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism. Last month, it reported anti-Semitic attacks increased by 16 percent from 2015 to 2016, but it has a much broader definition of anti-Semitic acts and can't be compared directly with the police department's data.
One of the vendors at Berlin's food hall during Nosh Berlin, the German capital's first food week, sold cholent, which he dubbed "Jewish soul food." March 19, 2017
Verónica Zaragovia for NPR
Cilly Kugelmann of the Jewish Museum points out that food weeks like this one do more than sell food. They are educational. That appeals to Kratochvila of Nosh Berlin, who hopes to make this an annual event.
"I wouldn't dream of calling the cuisine here homogeneous — there's a really diverse food scene in Berlin," she says. "But this is a component of the food landscape that's been sort of removed from it by history, that should be growing here."
Judging by the turnout for Nosh Berlin so far, people are enthusiastic about Jewish life here. By Sunday evening, all but one of the Shabbat dinners lined up for this Friday had sold out.

Veronica Zaragovia is a public radio reporter who lives in Berlin and is a fellow with the Robert Bosch Foundation. You can find her on Twitter @verozaragovia and on Instagram @veronicazaragovia.

The true, correct story of what happened at Donald Trump’s inauguration 24JAN17


I thought it would be appropriate to post this because the (NOT MY) drumpf/trump-pence administration just lost biggly in the U.S. House, the drumpf/trump-prnce-ryan nohealthcare bill was pulled due to lack of support by the party in power, the repiglicans! A reminder of happier times from the +Washington Post .....
The true, correct story of what happened at Donald Trump’s inauguration

 
I apologize to Donald Trump. As Sean Spicer so wisely said at his first news conference on Monday (It was the first. The one that happened on Saturday did not happen at all, and I recognize that!), it is unfair to be so mean and negative all the time. 
Here is the fair and unbiased story about the inauguration written in compliance with the Trump style guidelines that we should have been obeying all along. 

Nothing that has ever happened or will ever happen was as great as Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The crowd was magnificent and huge, bigger than any crowd had ever been before! It stretched all the way to the moon. The Pope, who was there, confirmed it.
“Thanks for being here, Pope,” Donald Trump told him.
“Are you kidding? You’re my best friend,” the Pope said. “I wouldn’t miss your big day for anything!” He gave Donald Trump a big high-five.
Everyone in the world had come there at great expense. They sold all their possessions — their homes, their “Hamilton” tickets, which were worthless to them — to raise money to come and see this great sight. They could not believe that a perfect being such as Donald Trump even existed. They thought that he was a myth or a legend or a decades-long series of fabrications.
But then they saw him, and their doubts fell away.
The media was there, too, and they were very sorry. “Donald,” the newscasters said, “we were mean to you. We used to laugh and call you names. We were no better than all of the other reindeer. How can you ever forgive us?”
“Forgive you?” Donald Trump asked. “I’ve already forgotten.” He smiled a big, beautiful smile. That was just who Donald Trump was: forgiving, like Jesus, but blond.
It was a wonderful start to the day.
Everyone liked Donald Trump’s speech and the words that he used. They liked even more the part where he rolled up his sleeve and showed off his bicep. It was a great bicep. It made the Rock so upset to see it that he threw something down on the ground and said “darn.”
Donald Trump pulled out a violin and played a solo, and then he pulled out a guitar and played an even sicker solo. The whole ground was soon covered with women’s undergarments. (Millions of women were there to support Donald Trump, and they were all AT LEAST sevens.) Also, every woman that Donald Trump had ever dated was there, and they were not upset with him, just ashamed that they had not lived up to his required standard.
“Trump! Trump! Trump!” the crowd cheered.
Donald Trump touched many people in the crowd in a way that they all thought was welcome and appropriate, and he cured their ailments, from cancer to autism.
“If only we could bottle your touch,” someone said, “children could stop getting vaccinated altogether.”
Donald Trump winked. “Don’t worry!” he said. “I’m on it!”
Then Donald Trump served loaves and fishes to everyone there. There were enough loaves and fishes for everyone, and they all were Made in America and said “TRUMP” on them. It was like the Oscars, but also like Woodstock, but also like the Super Bowl, but also like the Sermon on the Mount. If you were not there, you should just go home and die, because nothing in your life will have purpose or meaning by comparison, not even holding your newborn child in your arms or having health insurance. This is what FOMO was talking about for all these years.
Bono, and Bruce Springsteen, and Elton John, and the Rolling Stones, and Beyonce, and all the top artists were there. They fought hard over who would be allowed to sing. Finally Bruce Springsteen won. Bono cried and cried, and the other artists had to console him. When Bruce Springsteen had finished singing, he walked over to Donald Trump, extended his hand, and said, “You are the only real hero left in the world.”
The people were so excited that they built a very special stone pyramid just for Donald Trump so that he would not have to wait until he died to see what his monument would look like. But they were silly to be concerned. Donald Trump will never die!
A little child was in the audience, and he started to cry because the emperor was wearing so many clothes. Also, he could tell that he was not and never had been racist.
Donald Trump’s beautiful big family was there. His favorite childhood dog was there, too, back from the farm where he still lives to this day.
Donald Trump can talk to the animals, and his eyes are lasers. When the floor is lava, Donald Trump can walk on it, but only Donald Trump. When Donald Trump points his finger at you, you have to lie down. But when other people point their fingers at Donald Trump, he does not have to. Donald Trump’s block tower is the biggest. He does not need a nap or a snack. He has the longest, biggest attention span. Everyone loves Donald Trump, and what he has to say interests them.
Donald Trump is the star. People love him.
He won the popular vote, too.
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences."
  Follow @petridishes

GOP health-care bill: House Republican leaders abruptly pull their rewrite of the nation’s health-care law 24MAR17

stock photo of aca - Affordable Care Act Button A white button with red stripes and stars with words ACA isolated on a white background - JPG
VICTORY!!!! The repiglican leadership of the US House, rep fotze paul ryan r WI and the administration of (NOT MY) president drumpf/trump-pence have pulled their no health care bill, there will not be a vote, Obamacare stands! The republicans were not only defeated by the tea-baggers and freedom caucus and right wing extremest in their own party, they were also defeated by the American people who overwhelmingly disapproved of the drumpf/trump-pence-ryan plan. EVEN my representative, fotze barbara comstock r tb VA (10th cong dist) finally announced she would vote NO on the bill. Rest assured, her decision is political, she is looking at her re-election campaign in 2018, not care and compassion for her constituents. From +The Hill and the +Washington Post .....


Poll: Just 17 percent of voters back ObamaCare repeal plan

BY PAULINA FIROZI - 

Poll: Just 17 percent of voters back ObamaCare repeal plan
A majority of American voters oppose the Republicans' plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, while very few voters support it, a new poll finds.
A poll published Thursday by Quinnipiac University found that 56 percent of voters disapprove of the GOP healthcare plan, while just 17 percent support it.
Even among Republicans, only 41 percent support the American Health Care Act, while 24 percent oppose it. And 58 percent of Democratic voters disapprove of the plan.
Republicans are scrambling to shore up support for the repeal-and-replace bill ahead of an expected House vote later Thursday. President Trump is meeting with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who are seeking a number of changes to the bill in exchange for their support.
But centrist Republicans are fleeing from the bill as it changes to fit the conservatives' desires, complicating efforts to get the bill passed in the House.
The poll found that 46 percent of voters say they will be less likely to vote for their Congressional representative if they vote to approve the GOP health insurance plan.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from March 16 to 21 and surveyed 1,056 voters. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.
  

House Republican leaders abruptly pulled a Republican rewrite of the nation’s health-care system from consideration on Friday, a dramatic acknowledgment that they are so far unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“We just pulled it,” President Trump told the Washington Post in a telephone interview.
The decision came a day after Trump delivered an ultimatum to lawmakers — and represented multiple failures for the new president and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
The decision means the Affordable Care Act remains in place, at least for now, and a major GOP campaign promise goes unfulfilled. It also casts doubt on the GOP’s ability to govern and to advance other high-stakes agenda items, including tax reform and infrastructure spending. Ryan is still without a signature achievement as speaker — and the defeat undermines Trump’s image as a skilled dealmaker willing to strike compromises to push his agenda forward.
“I don’t blame Paul,” Trump said, referring to Ryan.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), who planned to vote for the legislation, said that Friday would have been the “first big vote in the presidency of Donald Trump. I think it’s a statement, not just about him and the administration, but about the Republican Party and where we’re headed.”
“So much about political power is about perception. And if the perception is that you can’t get your first big initiative done, then that hurts the perceptions down the road about your ability to get other big things done,” Byrne said in an interview before the decision.
The decision came hours after Ryan visited the White House to warn Trump that despite days of intense negotiations and sales pitches to skeptical members, the legislation lacked the votes to pass.
Trump had personally lobbied 120 lawmakers, either in person or on the phone, White House press secretary Sean Spicer reminded reporters on Friday. The president had “left everything on the field,” Spicer said.
Spicer said that no matter what happens, the White House did not think that defeat would slow other parts of Trump’s agenda including tax reform and immigration reform.
Vice President Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price also made a last-ditch attempt to win over members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, huddling with them at midday at the Capitol Hill Club, a GOP social hall next door to the headquarters of the Republican National Committee. All three exited the meeting quickly without taking questions.
In one stunning defection Friday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) announced at midday that the health care bill is “currently unacceptable” and that changes made late Thursday to placate conservatives “raise serious coverage and cost issues.”
Another moderate, Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) — who had met with Trump on Wednesday night — said he would vote against the bill. So did Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), a longtime Ryan friend and ally who represents a competitive Northern Virginia congressional district.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a Freedom Caucus member, was one of six Republicans who voted against a procedural resolution bringing the bill to the floor on Friday morning.
“You know what? I came here to do health care right,” said Gosar, a dentist. “This is one chance we that can get one-sixth of our GDP done right. It starts with here.”
At the heart of the argument made by GOP leaders to skeptical members: Keeping the Affordable Care Act is a worse outcome than passing a potentially flawed replacement.
“You want to score a touchdown, but sometimes, on the fourth down, you kick a field goal,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the longest-serving member of Congress in the Freedom Caucus. “The choice is yes or no. I’m not going to vote no and keep Obamacare. That’d be a stupid damn vote.”
At the White House on Friday morning, Trump projected confidence as he answered shouted questions following an announcement of a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a revived project that the president said would create jobs.
Asked by a reporter what he would do if the bill fails, Trump — seated at his Oval Office desk — shrugged and said: “We’ll see what happens.”
Trump also said he didn’t feel the process had been rushed and that Ryan should remain as speaker if the bill fails.
On Twitter, Trump said that “After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!”
With 237 House Republicans, party leaders can afford only 21 or 22 defections, depending on how many Democrats are present on Friday. If the measure fails, it would be a defeat for Trump in his first effort to help pass major legislation. An unsuccessful vote could also jeopardize other items on his wish list, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure spending.
No matter what happens in the House, the ultimate fate of the legislation hinges on the Senate, where new uncertainty emerged about the timing of a vote despite earlier guidance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) planned to push for a vote next week.
The Congressional Budget Office warned senators on Friday that recalculating the rewritten House bill could take a week or more to produce, said several officials familiar with the discussions, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
That was expected to upend McConnell’s plan to finish their work and send the legislation to the White House for Trump’s signature before a two-week Easter recess, according to three people briefed on the matter.
Senate budget rules require that party leaders provide an official estimate of how much the legislation would cost and how it would change the deficit before scheduling a vote.
McConnell’s aides didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
Republicans have a 52-to-48 advantage in the Senate, but at least a dozen Republicans are on the fence about the legislation, because many of them want to maintain some of the current law’s more generous spending components.
When formal debate on the bill began on Friday morning, top leaders used a procedural vote to gauge last-minute support. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was seen conferring with Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), a key holdout. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) sat in the row behind them cajoling Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), another moderate who has yet to announce what he plans to do.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the Freedom Caucus, did not respond to requests for comment on Friday about his plans.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo), a caucus member who said before the election that minor losses in the House Republican ranks would increase conservative clout, said he remained undecided.
“I’m examining life experiences,” he said. Asked to explain what he meant, he said he was joking.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a moderate who had expressed qualms as recently as Tuesday, when he was singled out by Trump inside a private meeting of House Republicans, said he had all but decided to vote for the bill.
“I’m not one they should worry about,” he said.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), one of Trump’s most ardent congressional supporters, said he remained opposed to the legislation because it made more political sense to keep current law than to start rewriting it.
“A no vote means we save Donald Trump from a Democratic majority in 2019,” Gohmert said. “If this passes, then Obamacare stays.”
Republican leaders on Thursday introduced several tweaks intended to appeal to skeptics on either ideological flank. The amendment looks to appease moderates by adding $15 billion to a flexible fund for states to pay for maternity, mental health and substance abuse programs under Medicaid. That money adds to an existing $85 billion pot of money created by leaders earlier in the week.
The amendment attempted to appease conservatives by allowing states to determine the minimum standards for health insurance plans. It would allow insurers to drop basic coverage, like maternity care and preventative screenings, in order to cut premium rates.
Several members from both groups said the new additions were helpful but did not go far enough to win their votes. Moderate Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) told reporters Friday that he worries the bill still does not give states enough flexibility.
“I think there’s trouble with a significant number,” he said.
With Republicans in total control of the chamber, House Democrats could do little but clash and shout. A rare early-morning meeting of the Rules Committee held to set the rules of debate and add the amendment to the legislation quickly became tense.
“You never intended for there to be a health plan of consequence for this nation,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), raising his voice as he spoke.
He added: “What we will have done is helped rich people. And we will not have helped poor people.”
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the bill’s architects, forcefully rejected Hastings’s claim during testimony before the rules panel, saying he was “offended” by the remark. He tried tempering the tone of his exchange with Hastings, who wouldn’t oblige
“I’m mad as hell about what you all are doing!” the Democrat exclaimed.
Later, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) told reporters that some Republicans were likely “ashamed” by a process that had been defined by “back-room deals,” turning an old Republican attack back onto the majority.
“For what? To keep a seven-year old campaign promise?” said Crowley. “So Trump doesn’t send a mean tweet about you? That’s not leadership; that’s politics.”
Sean Sullivan, David Nakamura, David Weigel, John Wagner and Paul Kane contributed to this report.
Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
  Follow @mikedebonis
Robert Costa is a national political reporter at The Washington Post.
  Follow @costareports
Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter who has covered congressional and presidential politics since 2008. He previously covered federal agencies, the federal workforce and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq. Follow @edatpost.
  Follow @edatpost

POLITICAL MOJO FROM MOTHER JONES 24MAR17

THE 45TH PRESIDENT

CAN'T argue with this....

INTERESTING PICTURE

KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION REPORT: Premiums and Tax Credits Under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American Health Care Act: Interactive Maps & How Affordable Care Act Repeal and Replace Plans Might Shift Health Insurance Tax Credits 21&10MAR17


THE really fascinating thing about these maps is the areas of the country that went overwhelmingly for drumpf/trump-pence and the right wing fanatics of the republican party are the ones with the highest health insurance premium increases under the drumpf/trump-ryancare scheme. If this passes these people will be getting exactly what they voted for! From the +Kaiser Family Foundation .....

Premiums and Tax Credits Under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American Health Care Act: Interactive Maps

Mar 21, 2017
These maps compare county-level estimates of premiums and tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2020 with what they’d receive under the American Health Care Act as unveiled March 6 by Republican leaders in Congress.
The maps were updated on March 21, 2017 to show estimates of how much a person buying their own insurance would have to pay under both the ACA and the House replacement bill. The maps include premium tax credit estimates by county for current ACA marketplace enrollees at age 27, 40, or 60 with an annual income of $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $75,000, or $100,000.
Note: This analysis does not take into account changes the House made on March 20 that would potentially allow for larger tax credits under the AHCA for people over age 50; it is not yet clear whether and how those funds would be allocated to tax credits. The map also does not include cost-sharing assistance under the ACA that lowers deductibles and copayments for low-income marketplace enrollees. For example, in 2016, people making between 100 – 150% of poverty enrolled in a silver plan on healthcare.gov received cost-sharing assistance worth $1,440; those with incomes between 150 – 200% of poverty received $1,068 on average; and those with incomes between 200 – 250% of poverty received $144 on average.
Generally, people who are older, lower-income, or live in high-premium areas (like Alaska and Arizona) receive less financial assistance under the AHCA. Additionally, older people would have higher starting premiums under the AHCA and would therefore pay higher premiums. Because younger people with higher-incomes and living in lower cost areas would receive more financial assistance and would have lower starting premiums on average, they would pay lower premiums on average.
Most current Healthcare.gov enrollees have lower incomes:
  • About 66% of have incomes at or below 250% of poverty (approximately $31,250 for a single individual in 2020), with the bulk (44% of all enrollees) having incomes at or below 150% of poverty (approximately $18,750 in 2020).
  • About 36% of enrollees are under age 35, 37% are age 35 to 54, and 27% are 55 or older.
Both the ACA and the American Health Care Act include tax credits in their approach. However, the law and the proposal calculate credit amounts differently: the ACA takes family income, local cost of insurance, and age into account, while the replacement proposal bases tax credits only on age, with a phase out for individuals with incomes above $75,000.
Our method of estimating premiums before tax credits under the AHCA is based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, which suggest that the premium for a 40-year-old under the AHCA would be similar to the premium for a 40-year-old under the ACA, before accounting for tax credits and for the same level of coverage. We therefore assume that the premium before tax credits for the second-lowest cost silver plan under the ACA is equal to the premium for a similar plan (with 70% actuarial value) under the AHCA for a 40-year-old. To arrive at the 60-year-old and 27-year-old premium under the AHCA, we use a 5:1 age curve, since the AHCA would change age rating from 3:1 to 5:1. We assume that states that have set their own age curves with ratios smaller than 3:1 (i.e. New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia) would maintain their state-specific age curves under the AHCA.
A second interactive map below displays the same information as in the first map, but with a focus on the share of one’s income that would be spent on a silver plan premium under both the ACA and the AHCA. Like the map above, it does not include cost-sharing assistance available for lower-income enrollees in the ACA, nor does it account for changes that may be made to increase the amount of financial assistance available to older enrollees in the AHCA.

How Affordable Care Act Repeal and Replace Plans Might Shift Health Insurance Tax Credits

Updated on March 10, 2017. Originally posted on March 1, 2017.
An important part of the repeal and replacement discussions around the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will involve the type and amount of subsidies that people get to help them afford health insurance.  This is particularly important for lower and moderate income individuals who do not have access to coverage at work and must purchase coverage directly.
The ACA provides three types of financial assistance to help people afford health coverage: Medicaid expansion for those with incomes below 138% of poverty (the Supreme Court later ruled this to be at state option); refundable premium tax credits for people with incomes from 100% to 400% of the poverty level who purchase coverage through federal or state marketplaces; cost-sharing subsidies for people with incomes from 100% to 250% of poverty to provide lower deductibles and copays when purchasing silver plans in a marketplace.
This analysis focuses on alternative ways to provide premium assistance for people purchasing individual market coverage, explaining how they work, providing examples of how they’re calculated, and presenting estimates of how assistance overall would change for current ACA marketplace enrollees.  Issues relating to changing Medicaid or methods of subsidizing cost-sharing will be addressed in other analyses.

Premium Tax Credits Under the ACA and Current Replacement Proposals

The ACA and leading replacement proposals rely on refundable tax credits to help individual market enrollees pay for premiums, although the credit amounts are set quite differently.  The House Leadership proposal released on March 6, the American Health Care Act, proposes refundable tax credits which vary with age (with a phase-out for high-income enrollees) and grow annually with inflation.  The tax credits under the ACA vary with family income and the cost of insurance where people live, as well as age, and grow annually if premiums increase.
These various tax credit approaches can have quite different implications for different groups of individual market purchasers.  For example, the tax credits under the ACA are higher for people with lower incomes than for people with higher incomes, and no credit is provided for individuals with incomes over 400% of poverty.  The current replacement proposal, in contrast, is flat for incomes up to $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a married couple, and so would provide relatively more assistance to people with upper-middle incomes.  Similarly, the ACA tax credits are relatively higher in areas with higher premiums (like many rural areas), while the replacement proposal credits do not vary by location.  If premiums grow more rapidly than inflation over time (which they generally have), the replacement proposal tax credits will grow more slowly than those provided under the ACA.
What is a Tax Credit, and How is it Different from a Deduction?
tax credit is an amount by which a taxpayer can reduce the amount they owe in federal income tax; for example, if a person had a federal tax bill of $2,500 and a tax credit of $1,000, their tax liability would be reduced to $1,500.  A refundable tax credit means that if the amount of the tax credit is greater than the amount of taxes owed, the taxpayer receives a refund of the difference; for example, if a person had a federal tax bill of $1000 and a tax credit of $1,500, they would receive a refund of $500.  Making the credit refundable is important if a goal is to assist lower-income families, many of whom may not owe federal income tax. An advanceable tax credit is made available at the time a premium payment is owed (which similarly benefits lower-income families so that they can receive the financial assistance upfront). The ACA and a number of replacement proposals allow for advance payment of credits.
A tax credit is different from a tax deduction.  A deduction reduces the amount of income that is taxed, while a credit reduces the amount of tax itself.  For example, if a person has taxable income of $30,000, a $500 deduction reduces the amount of taxable income to $29,500.  If the person’s marginal tax rate is 15%, the deduction reduces the person’s taxes by 15% of $500, or $75. Because people with lower incomes have lower marginal tax rates than people with higher incomes – and, typically don’t itemize their deductions – tax credits are generally more beneficial to lower income people than deductions.
The next section describes the differing tax credit approaches in more detail and draws out some of the implications for different types of purchasers.

How the Different Tax Credits Are Calculated

The ACA provides tax credits for individuals with family incomes from 100% to 400% of poverty ($11,880 to $47,520 for a single individual in 2017) if they are not eligible for employer-provided or public coverage and if they purchase individual market coverage in the federal or a state marketplace.  The tax credit amounts are calculated based on the family income of eligible individuals and the cost of coverage in the area where the live. More specifically, the ACA tax credit for an eligible individual is the difference between a specified percentage of his or her income (Table 1) and the premium of the second-lowest-cost silver plan (referred to as the benchmark premium) available in the area in which they live.  There is no tax credit available if the benchmark premium is less than the specified percentage of premium (which can occur for younger purchasers with relatively higher incomes) or if family income falls outside of the 100% to 400% of poverty range.  For families, the premiums for family members are added together (including up to 3 children) and compared to specified income percentages. ACA tax credits are made available in advance, based on income information provided to the marketplace, and reconciled based on actual income when a person files income taxes the following.
Table 1: Affordable Care Act Tax Credit Premium Cap, by Income in 2017
Income % PovertyPremium Cap (maximum % of income one must pay for second-lowest silver plan available to in their area)
Under 100%No Cap
100% – 133%2.04%
133% – 150%3.06% – 4.08%
150% – 200%4.08% – 6.43%
200% – 250%6.43% – 8.21%
250% – 300%8.21% – 9.69%
300% – 400%9.69%
Over 400%No Cap
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
Take, for example, a person age 40 with income of $30,000, which is 253% of poverty.  At this income, the person’s specified percentage of income is 8.28% in 2017, which means that the person receives a tax credit if he or she has to pay more than 8.28% of income (or $2,485 annually) for the second-lowest-cost silver premium where he or she lives.  If we assume a premium of $4,328 (the national average benchmark premium for a person age 40 in 2017), the person’s tax credit would be the difference between the benchmark premium and the specified percentage of income, or $4,328 – $2,485 = $1,843 (or $154 per month).
The American Health Care Act takes a simpler approach and specifies the actual dollar amounts for a new refundable tax credit that could be used to purchase individual market coverage.  The amounts vary only with age up until an income of $75,000 for a single individual, at which point they begin to phase out. Tax credits range from $2,000 for people under age 30, to $2,500 for people ages 30 to 39, $3,000 for people age 40 to 49, $3,500 for people age 50 to 59, and $4,000 for people age 60 and over starting in 2020. Eligibility for the tax credit phases out starting at income above $75,000 for single individuals (the credit is reduced, but not below zero, by 10 cents for every dollar of income above this threshold, reaching zero at an income of $95,000 for single individuals up to age 29 or $115,000 for individuals age 60 and older). For joint filers, credits begin to phase out at an income of $150,000 (the tax credit is reduced to zero at an income of $190,000 for couples up to age 29; it is reduced to zero at income $230,000 for couples age 60 or older; and it is reduced to zero at income of $290,000 for couples claiming the maximum family credit amount). People who sign up for public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, public employee health benefit programs, would not be eligible for a tax credit. The proposal further limits eligibility for tax credits to people who do not have an offer available for employer-provided health benefits.
Table 2 shows how projected ACA tax credits in 2020 compare to what would be provided under the American Health Care Act for people at various incomes, ages, and geographic areas. To show the ACA amounts in 2020, we inflated all 2017 premiums based on projections for direct purchase spending per enrollee from the National Health Expenditure Accounts. This method applies the same premium growth across all ages and geographic locations.  Note that the table does not include cost-sharing assistance under the ACA that lowers deductibles and copayments for low-income marketplace enrollees. For example, in 2016, people making between 100 – 150% of poverty enrolled in a silver plan on healthcare.gov received cost-sharing assistance worth $1,440; those with incomes between 150 – 200% of poverty received $1,068 on average; and those with incomes between 200 – 250% of poverty received $144 on average.
Table 2: Projected Annual Premium Tax Credit available in the Individual Market under the Affordable Care Act and the American Health Care Act, 2020
Income (2020 FPL)AgeAffordable Care ActAmerican Health Care Act
Reno, NVUS AverageMobile, ALReno, NVUS AverageMobile, AL
$20,000 (160% FPL)27$2,899$3,225$4,522$2,000$2,000$2,000
40$3,745$4,143$5,725$3,000$3,000$3,000
60$9,030$9,874$13,235$4,000$4,000$4,000
$40,000 (320% FPL)27$0$103$1,400$2,000$2,000$2,000
40$623$1,021$2,603$3,000$3,000$3,000
60$5,908$6,752$10,113$4,000$4,000$4,000
$75,000 (600% FPL)27$0$0$0$2,000$2,000$2,000
40$0$0$0$3,000$3,000$3,000
60$0$0$0$4,000$4,000$4,000
$100,000 (800% FPL)27$0$0$0$0$0$0
40$0$0$0$500$500$500
60$0$0$0$1,500$1,500$1,500
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. Notes: In the 2017 ACA exchange markets, premiums in Reno, NV and Mobile, AL are approximately representative of the 25th and 75th percentile, respectively. 2017 ACA premiums were increased according to National Health Expenditure projections for direct purchase. Under the ACA, people with incomes below 250% of the poverty level receive additional financial assistance for cost-sharing (not shown above).
Under the ACA in 2020, we project that a typical 40-year-old making $20,000 per year would be eligible for $4,143 in premium tax credits (not including the additional cost-sharing subsidies to lower his or her deductibles and copayments), while under the American Health Care Act, this person would be eligible $3,000. For context, we project that the average ACA premium for a 40-year-old in 2020 would be $5,101 annually (meaning the tax credit in the ACA would cover 81% of the total premium) for a benchmark silver plan with comprehensive benefits and reduced cost-sharing. A $3,000 tax credit for this same individual under the American Health Care Act would represent 59% of the average 40-year-old benchmark silver premium under the ACA.
Generally, the ACA has higher tax credit amounts than the replacement plan for lower-income people – especially for those who are older and live in higher-cost areas – and lower credits for those with higher incomes. Unlike the ACA, the replacement plan provides tax credits to people over 400% percent of the poverty level (phasing out around 900% of poverty for a single person), as well as to people current buying individual market coverage outside of the marketplaces (not included in this analysis).
While replacement plan tax credits vary by age – by a factor of 2 to 1 for older adults relative to younger ones – the variation is substantially less than under the ACA. The big differences in ACA tax credits at different ages is due to the fact that premiums for older adults can be three times the level of premiums for younger adults under the ACA, but all people at a given income level are expected to pay the same percentage of their income towards a benchmark plan. The tax credit fills in the difference, and this amount is much higher for older adults. These differences by age would be even further magnified under the American Health Care Act (which permits premiums to vary by a factor of 5 to 1 due to age). Before the ACA, premiums for older adults were typically four or five times the premiums charged to younger adults.

Figure 1: How House Republicans’ health reform plan might shift average health insurance tax credits, based on income and age, in 2020
The tax credits in the ACA vary significantly with premium costs in an area (see Table 2 and Figure 2). At a given income level and age, people receive bigger tax credits in a higher premium area like Mobile, Alabama and smaller tax credits in a lower premium area like Reno, Nevada. Under the ACA in 2017, premiums in Mobile, Alabama and Reno, Nevada approximately represent the 75th and 25th percentile, respectively.
The disparities between the ACA tax credits and those in the American Health Care Act will therefore vary noticeably across the country. For more on geographic differences between the ACA and the replacement plan, see Tax Credits under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American Health Care Act: An Interactive Map.

Figure 2: How House Republicans’ health reform plan might shift health insurance tax credits for a 40-year-old, by income & geography, 2020
The same general pattern can be seen for families as individuals, with lower-income families – and particularly lower-income families in higher-cost areas – receiving larger tax credits under the ACA, while middle-income families in lower-cost areas would receive larger tax credits under the American Health Care Act (Figure 3).

Figure 3: How House Republicans’ health reform plan might shift health insurance tax credits for a family of four, by income & geography, 2020
Figure 4 below shows how tax credits under the ACA differ from those in the American Health Care Act for a couple in their 60’s with no children. In this scenario, because premiums for older adults are higher and the ACA ties tax credits to the cost of premiums, a 60-year-old couple would receive larger tax credits under the ACA than the American Health Care Act at lower and middle incomes, but would receive a larger tax credit under the American Health Care Act at higher incomes.

Figure 4: How House Republicans’ health reform plan might shift health insurance tax credits for a 60-year-old couple, by income & geography, 2020

Estimates of Tax Credits Under the ACA and the American Health Care Act Over Time

We estimated the average tax credits that current ACA marketplace enrollees are receiving under the ACA and what they would qualify for if the American Health Care Act were in place.
Table 3: Average Annual Premium Tax Credit for Current Marketplace Enrollees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the American Health Care Act 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year projections
 YearAffordable Care ActAmerican Health Care ActChange from ACA
2020 (3 years)$4,615$2,957-36%
2022 (5 years)$5,342$3,160-41%
2027 (10 years)$6,648$3,729-44%
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of data from Healthcare.gov, state-based exchanges, and Congressional Budget Office. Note: Amounts above represent the average tax credit received based on the age distribution of current Marketplace enrollees.
The average estimated tax credit received by ACA marketplace enrollees in 2017 is $3,617 on an annual basis, and that this amount will rise to $4,615 by 2020 based on projected growth rates from the Congressional Budget Office. This includes the 81% who receive premium subsidies as well as the 19% who do not.
We estimate – based on the age distribution of marketplace enrollees – that current enrollees would receive an average tax credit under the American Health Care Act of $2,957 in 2020, or 36% less than under the ACA (see Table 3 and Figure 3). While many people would receive lower tax credits under the Affordable Health Care Act, some would receive more assistance, notably the 19% of current marketplace enrollees who do not qualify for ACA subsidies.

Figure 5: Over time, the average tax credit received under Republican replacement plans would grow slower than under the ACA
While ACA tax credits grow as premiums increase over time, the tax credits in the American Health Care Act are indexed to inflation plus 1 percentage point. Based on CBO’s projections of ACA tax credit increases and inflation, the disparity between the average credits under the ACA and the two replacement plans would widen over time. The average tax credit current marketplace enrollees would receive under the American Health Care Act would be 41% lower than under the ACA in 2022 and 44% lower in 2027.

Discussion

Like the ACA itself, the American Health Care Act includes refundable tax credits to help make premiums more affordable for people buying their own insurance. This might seem like an area where a replacement plan could preserve a key element of the ACA. However, the tax credits are, in fact, structured quite differently, with important implications for affordability and which groups may be winners or losers if the ACA is repealed and replaced.
For current marketplace enrollees, the American Health Care Act would provide substantially lower tax credits overall than the ACA on average. People who are lower income, older, or live in high premium areas would be particularly disadvantaged under the American Health Care Act. People with incomes over 400% of the poverty level – including those buying individual market insurance outside of the marketplaces – do not get any financial assistance under the ACA but many would receive tax credits under the replacement proposal.
The underlying details of health reform proposals, such as the size and structure of health insurance tax credits, matter crucially in determining who benefits and who is disadvantaged