The Senate Considers Keeping Obamacare Taxes

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Reuters

Senate Republicans will consider retaining Obamacare’s taxes for a longer period than the House-passed bill as they hope to find a consensus to pass the bill through the upper chamber.

Lawmakers will consider a slower phase-out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and more generous tax credits for individuals purchasing health insurance. Republicans will have to make up the difference in revenue to pay for a slower rollout of Medicaid and higher tax credits.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Senate Finance Committee chairman, explained that repealing all of Obamacare’s taxes would be the Senate’s loftiest goal, However, the Utah lawmaker said that the Senate would consider all options.

Hatch said, “We’re not going to ignore anything. We’re going to have to really look very carefully.”

A slower roll back of Obamacare’s taxes would generate enough revenue for a more generous health care bill, although retaining Obamacare’s one trillion dollars in taxes would generate significant backlash from conservatives.

Nearly four dozen conservative groups wrote to Senator Hatch this week, urging the Senate to repeal Obamacare’s taxes.

The alliance said,

True repeal of Obamacare means repealing the Obamacare taxes and the Senate should resist the urge to deprive taxpayers of relief to pay for higher spending. We commend you on your stance to repeal these Obamacare taxes and urge any final package accelerate or at least maintain the House-passed tax reductions.

Prominent conservative groups such as FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Club for Growth played a significant role in the revolt against the initial version of the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), which many conservatives chided as Obamacare-Lite and Ryancare.

The AHCA would repeal most of Obamacare’s taxes in 2017 while retaining the 0.9 percent Medicare surtax on wealthy Americans until 2023 and delay the implementation of the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health care plans until 2026.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) said that although the Senate would like to repeal all of Obamacare’s taxes, they would still like to consider all of their options. Thune said:

I think most of the taxes are going to go away for sure — the taxes that affect consumers, your tax on prescriptions, tax on medical devices, tax on insurance plans. But our members are still having a conversation about if we want to make changes that are in the end going to require some additional revenue where that might come from.

Conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) admitted that passing a Senate health care bill will involve making some tough choices. Cruz said, “There are many issues being debated in the group. We have a very narrow majority in the Senate, 52 Republicans.”

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a moderate Republican, said that he believes that tax reform would serve as a more appropriate vehicle for repealing Obamacare’s taxes.

“If we’re going to repeal the Obamacare taxes, let’s do it when we do all the other tax stuff,” he said. “Take care of healthcare, figure out who you want to cover and then take the Obamacare taxes, put it in tax reform and address it all in tax reform,” the Louisiana senator said.

The Senate appears to have President Donald Trump’s blessing, as he told Senators this week that the House’s AHCA was “mean,” urging them to create a “more generous” bill.

Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate. GOP leadership can only lose two senators and then have Vice President Mike Pence break a tie in the Senate to pass a health care reform bill.

Recently President Trump suggested that the Senate add more money to the health care reform bill.

 

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