GOP Targets ObamaCare Taxes in Fast-Track Process

September 29, 2015

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Source: The Hill

Republicans will seek to repeal a range of ObamaCare taxes as well as the healthcare law’s mandates to buy insurance through the fast-track process known as reconciliation.

President Obama is sure to veto the measures, but reconciliation will allow them to at least reach his desk, bypassing an expected Senate Democratic filibuster. The process is kicking into gear now because it is also being used in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, part of an effort to target the organization by means other than risking a government shutdown.
“The law is as unpopular as ever, and now is the time to use all the procedural tools at our disposal to directly challenge the president,” the Ways and Means Committee said in a statement.

A reconciliation bill released by the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday includes repeal of ObamaCare’s individual and employer mandates, the requirements that individuals purchase health insurance and that larger employers provide it, or else pay penalties.

The individual mandate is seen as part of the core of the law, but other provisions that Republicans are looking to repeal have drawn opposition from some Democrats as well.

The bill would repeal ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax,” a 40 percent levy on high-cost health plans set to take effect in 2018. It has drawn strong opposition from unions concerned that it will be an incentive to curtail employee health benefits. A bill to repeal the tax has 136 Democratic co-sponsors in the House.

The measure also would repeal the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, which some Democrats have opposed as well, arguing it stifles innovation. Forty-six Democrats voted in favor of repeal in June.

A separate reconciliation measure would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a panel tasked with coming up with Medicare cuts if spending rises above a certain level. That level has not been hit yet, though, and the panel does not yet exist. Eleven Democrats voted to repeal the board in June, while others said they would have if it had not been paid for by cutting an ObamaCare public health fund.

The White House has defended the Cadillac tax and has threatened to veto the House-passed bills repealing the IPAB and the medical device tax. There are also concerns about cost, with repeal of the Cadillac tax estimated to cost $87 billion over 10 years and the medical device tax $24.4 billion.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is also considering a reconciliation measure, which it released on Friday night, that would defund Planned Parenthood, redirecting the money to other providers. It would also repeal a public health fund under ObamaCare that Republicans call a “slush fund.”

Parliamentary rules limiting the process to spending and revenue matters prevent a full repeal of ObamaCare from being passed through reconciliation.

Markups in both committees are scheduled for Tuesday; if passed, the House Budget Committee will combine the measures into one bill.

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