CCH Tax Day Report
The latest wave of discussion on Capitol Hill surrounding House Republicans’ proposed ACA repeal and replace legislation is centering on the increasing possibility of changes to the bill before it reaches the House floor or, at least, before it reaches the Senate. Such a move could cause further tension with Republicans in the Senate and is already creating backlash from Democrats.
Vice President Mike Pence met with the Republican Study Committee (RSC) on March 15 to discuss the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and changes desired by some Republicans. According to a one-sheet palm card distributed during the RSC meeting obtained by Wolters Kluwer, RSC members would like to ensure tax credits are “fiscally responsible to promote work” and that Health Saving Accounts (HSAs) will be expanded to allow paying for premiums, among other items. According to RSC Chairman Mark Walker, R-N.C., Pence and Republican lawmakers discussed how best to improve the AHCA. “Vice President Pence left conservatives optimistic that their concerns will be addressed in a manager’s amendment,” a House GOP aide told Wolters Kluwer.
The White House is currently working with House Leadership to determine the contents of the forthcoming Manager’s amendment to the AHCA, White House press secretary Sean Spicer recently told reporters. “There will be a manager’s amendment,” Spicer said.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are cautioning Republicans against changing the AHCA, which just recently received its cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) (TAXDAY, 2017/03/15, C.1). “If any changes are made at Rules, the American people and Members have a right to see an updated CBO score on the consequences of the final legislation before any vote by the House,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a March 15 letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
The AHCA is on track for a markup in the House Budget Committee on March 16. The bill is expected to reach the House floor before the end of March.
The GOP health care bill is also likely to face amendments once it reaches the Senate, as several Senators have been outspoken in their concerns with the AHCA as it is currently drafted. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has been discussing his proposal to implement a means-test for the tax credits proposed within the AHCA. Thune recently told reporters that there are things that can be done to make the AHCA’s tax credits more attractive and helpful for lower-income individuals. “We think the House bill has laid a great foundation…and we look forward to having an opportunity to work on it in the Senate,” Thune said on March 15.
By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff