CCH Tax Day Report
The House Ways and Means Committee on March 8 began marking up the American Health Care Bill, the House Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) (TAXDAY, 2017/03/07, C.1). At press time, the committee held one of five votes it was scheduled to take during the markup, passing a provision involving remunerations from certain insurers by a vote of 23 to 16.
“The legislation before us today represents one half of the “American Health Care Act,” which is the full reconciliation bill we will deliver with our colleagues at Energy and Commerce,” Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., said during opening statements. Ranking member Richard Neal, D-Mass., criticized the legislation as being more focused on tax than healthcare. “Today’s markup is really the Republicans’ first step on tax reform. This legislation is a tax bill; almost every provision amends the Internal Revenue Code. So, we need to view this bill through the lens of tax reform as well,” Neal said.
Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) Chief of Staff Thomas Barthold testified that, over the budget period for fiscal years 2017-2026, the bill would reduce federal revenue by $400 million by repealing an ACA provision that limits deductions for certain insurance companies. “Generally, employers may deduct the remunerations paid to employees as “ordinary and necessary” business expenses,” the bill notes. The ACA, however, added a limitation on such deductions for certain insurance companies. A House GOP aide told Wolters Kluwer, in response to the committee’s discussion on the remuneration provision, the ACA’s “punishing different industries to lower costs clearly did not work. Unlike (ACA), our legislation does not discriminate against specific industries.” Barthold testified that, at this time, the JCT does not have a distributional cost analysis of the entire bill or each of its provisions, noting that its review is not yet complete.
“There are several provisions in this bill that will clearly raise taxes for working Americans,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J., said. Pascrell offered an amendment to require that the bill not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year. Republicans blocked the amendment. Pascrell’s amendment was identical to an amendment offered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., in 2009, according to Pascrell.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Tex., offered a motion to postpone the markup “for insight not delay,” but Republicans blocked the motion. In response to Democrats’ criticism that the bill has lacked transparency, a House GOP aide told Wolters Kluwer that the proposed legislation includes 37 bills previously passed in the House and considerations from over 200 hearings held on the ACA.
Democrats argued that a markup should not be held until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases its score of the bill. During opening statements, however, Brady that” everyone on this committee understands this is nothing out of the ordinary for a markup.” According to Brady, House Republicans will ensure their “fiscally responsible legislation meets all reconciliation instructions before it reaches the House floor.”
The markup continued into the evening and, at press time, over nine hours after the markup began, the bill had not yet been approved by the committee. Iit was expected that discussions were expected to go late into the night or to be continued on another day.
By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff
Ways and Means Press Release: Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Markup of Budget Reconciliation Recommendations to Repeal and Replace Obamacare
Ways and Means Press Release: Ranking Member Neal Opening Statement at Markup of GOP Health Care Repeal Bill