ACA Taxes May Not All Be Repealed, GOP Senators Say

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Several Republican senators are remaining noncommittal about whether all taxes related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) will be repealed under the Senate’s initiative to reform health care. The Senate is said to be crafting its own version of an ACA repeal and replace bill, rather than working from the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) (HR 1628) (TAXDAY, 2017/05/09, C.1).

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced on May 10 that it will be releasing its final score of the House-passed AHCA sometime during the week of May 22. The CBO’s score, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is a prerequisite before Senate consideration of the AHCA (TAXDAY, 2017/05/05, C.1).

Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters on May 9 that the repeal of all ACA -related taxes would be “negotiated.” Hatch has previously said, however, that all ACA taxes must be repealed. “After spending seven years talking about the harm being caused by these taxes, it’s difficult to switch gears now and decide that they’re fine so long as they’re being used to pay for our health care bill,” Hatch said earlier in 2017 (TAXDAY, 2017/02/02, C.1). Several senators, however, have voiced concerns that repealing all ACA -related taxes would cause coverage and funding issue with a new health care bill.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., has said she has a lot of concerns about the AHCA, particularly that there is not yet a CBO score with which to conduct proper analysis. “One of the problems with the House bill is that the tax credits are not adjusted for income or geographic locations,” Collins said in an interview earlier during the week of May 8. Additionally, Collins has cautioned against removing all ACA taxes from the equation, saying the bill will need some “pay-fors.”

The House bill is not coming before the Senate, according to Collins. “The Senate is starting from scratch; we’re going to draft our own bill,” she added.

Meanwhile, every Senate Democrat signed a letter sent to McConnell and Hatch urging against the repeal of the ACA. “We are committed to acting in a bipartisan, transparent way to improve our healthcare system…as long as they (Republicans) give up repeal,”” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press briefing about the letter. “They know (the AHCA) is a non-starter and a broken promise and so do Democrats,” he added.

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

American Health Care Act of 2017, as Passed by the House on May 4, 2017, HR 1628

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