Academy Letter to Tax Reform Conference Committee

December 11, 2017

The Honorable Diane Black
Chairman
Budget Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin Brady
Chairman
Ways and Means Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Ranking Member
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Michael Enzi
Chairman
Budget Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Raúl Grijalva
Ranking Member
Natural Resources Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Orrin Hatch
Chairman
Finance Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
Chairman
Energy and Natural Resources Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Richard Neal
Ranking Member
Ways and Means Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Bernie Sanders
Ranking Member
Budget Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Ron Wyden
Ranking Member
Finance Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairmen Black, Brady, Enzi, Hatch, Murkowski and Ranking Members Cantwell, Grijalva, Neal, Sanders and Wyden:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is writing to express our concerns with H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, as passed in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. As the Conference Committee begins deliberations on a compromise bill, we respectfully request that the Committee consider the following issues that would harm the nation's health.

In particular, the Academy is concerned with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's requirement that individuals maintain adequate health insurance coverage, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates would cause 13 million Americans to lose insurance by 2026.1

The Academy is also concerned that the projected increase to the federal deficit will inhibit federal investments in evidence-based health and nutrition programs. CBO reports that if the current proposals become law, there will be a four percent cut to Medicare, as well as the elimination of the Social Services Block Grant and the Prevention and Public Health Fund.2

The Academy holds five key tenets for analyzing any legislation that impacts health care:

  1. The health of all Americans should improve as a result of our health policy choices. Sufficient resources must be made available to ensure optimal health.
  2. Access to quality health care is a right that must be extended to all Americans.
  3. Nutrition services, from pre-conception through end of life, are an essential component of comprehensive health care.
  4. Stable, sufficient and reliable funding is necessary for our health care system to provide everyone access to a core package of benefits.
  5. Health care must be patient-centered.

The tax reform proposals passed in the House and Senate not only fail to improve the health of all Americans, but will worsen patient care and public health by removing vital resources that are currently effective in improving health across the nation. The Academy believes that all Americans should have both coverage and access to quality health care. Affordable access to health care is an ongoing challenge that any legislation that reforms the health care system should address.

By repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the tax proposals eliminates the sole federal investment in prevention, which will harm state and local communities that depend on these effective public-private partnerships to improve the health of their communities. Academy members across the country utilize grants from the Prevention Fund to improve the health of communities and these efforts would be lost without this investment.

The tax reform proposals passed in both the House and the Senate fail to meet the Academy's five tenets, and therefore we continue to oppose these proposals. The Academy urges Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to draft common-sense reforms that would improve access to quality and affordable health care for all Americans. The Academy continues to offer our expertise to work with you to improve the nutrition and health of the country.

Sincerely,

Donna S. Martin, EdS, RDN, LD, SNS, FAND
President, 2017-2018

cc: Representatives Bishop, Castor, Doggett, Levin, Noem, Nunes, Roskam, Shimkus, Upton and Young;

Senators Carper, Cornyn, Menendez, Murray, Portman, Scott, Stabenow, Thune and Toomey

Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi


1 Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate of Repealing the Individual Health Insurance Mandate, November 8, 2017.

2 Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate of Legislation that would raise the deficits by an estimated $1.5 trillion over the 2018-2027 period, November 14, 2017.