Sun May 7, 2017 5:10AM
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Billionaire American investor Warren Buffett has denounced the Donald Trump administration’s healthcare overhaul as a huge tax cut for wealthy individuals like himself.

The US House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly – 217 to 213 -- approved legislation to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance program, known as Obamacare. No Democrats backed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and some 20 Republicans voted in opposition.

The Trump administration’s healthcare bill would repeal most of the taxes that paid for Obamacare, which is formally known as the Affordable Care Act. The AHCA bill however faces a likely overhaul and uncertain passage in the Senate, where Republicans have a very narrow majority.

Speaking at an annual conference of his company’s shareholders in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, Buffett said that healthcare costs were the biggest problem facing US businesses, adding that his federal income taxes last year would have gone down 17 percent had the new healthcare law been in effect.

"So it is a huge tax cut for guys like me," he said. "And when there's a tax cut, either the deficit goes up or they get the taxes from somebody else."

"Medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness," Buffett said. "That is a problem this society is having trouble with and is going to have more trouble with."

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Most of the Republican politicians have long vowed to repeal Obamacare, which covers some 20 million Americans. Health care experts from across the political spectrum have said that Trump’s healthcare bill is unworkable and suffers from fatal flaws and could lead to Americans dropping out of the healthcare market.

Experts agree that the bill fails to reach the objectives laid forth by Trump, which include affordable coverage for everyone, lower deductibles and healthcare costs and better care.

'Trump's proposed tax plan will benefit rich'

US President Donald Trump walks after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, April 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Buffett, who is the fourth richest man in the world with a net worth totaling $74.3 billion, also said that Trump's proposed tax plan would benefit the rich people like the shareholders of his firm, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which owns more than 60 companies.

Buffett, who has promised to donate more than 99% of his fortune to charity, has criticized American tax rules that allow the ultra-rich to pay lower rates than the middle class. He once famously said somebody like him should not be paying a lower tax rate than his secretary.