GOP Representatives could pass a bill repealing the 2.3% medical device excise tax by the end of this week, but that doesn’t mean the war is won.
Many of their colleagues across the aisle have been withholding judgement in order to learn how Erik Paulsen’s (R-Minn.) repeal bill plans to make up for the $30 billion the tax would have generated over 10 years, but they may not like the GOP’s answer.
Late last week, House Republicans unveiled a plan to pay for the tax by cutting back on some of the subsidies designed to make health insurance more affordable for low- and mid-income households.
The plan would require full reimbursement of any tax credits patients receive under health care reform’s government-sponsored health insurance exchanges, doing away with a cap on liability for overpayments and a 2-year statute of limitations, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"The proposal from the Ways and Means Committee would require those who receive exchange subsidies to which they are not entitled to repay the full amount of over-payments," according to a reconciliation memo by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "The Joint Committee on Taxation & CBO estimate this provision would reduce the deficit by $43.9 billion over 10 years."
The GOP plans to present the plan before the House issues a vote on the Paulsen’s bill this week, according to the newspaper.
The bill doesn’t need any more support to pass in the House, already having collected 240 co-sponsors, but the list of Democratic supporters remains low – and almost non-existent in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The House Ways & Means Committee‘s markup hearing on the Paulsen measure last week was riddled with heated rhetoric about the bill and the need to establish a pay-for.
Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) reminded members that the rules don’t demand a pay-for until they hit the House floor, but Great Lakes State colleague Sander Levin (D-Mich.) urged the committee not to shirk that concern.
"A requirement is 1 thing, Mr. Chairman," Levin said during the committee meeting last week. "But that doesn’t mean we don’t have an obligation to come up in this committee with pay-fors. It’s not required under the rules, but it’s a dereliction of our duties not to consider pay-fors."
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) followed up by saying that it was "shameful" that the committee was asked to consider the bill without any knowledge of how – or even if – the lost revenue would be recouped.
The bill passed through committee without a pay-for despite the fervent protests of Democratic members. Only 2 blue members, Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), voted to push the repeal bill to the House. Neither are noted as co-sponsors on Paulsen’s bill.