The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 242-173 to move forward on a bill to repeal the 2.3% medical device excise tax, promising a final vote on the measure later today.
Following an additional 90 minutes of debate, the House will issue a final vote that is largely expected to result in passage of the device tax.
The vote took place in the shadow of a Capitol Hill bulletin assuring that White House senior advisors would block the bill, H.R. 436, should the measure reach the President’s desk – a gesture that may have galvanized Democratic opposition to the bill.
House Democrats lined up in opposition to Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R-Minn.) repeal bill, largely due to the pay-for Republicans established to make up for the $30 billion the tax is expected to generate over 10 years.
GOP leaders unveiled late last week in a measure intended to take a stronger hand in recouping overpaid health insurance tax credits granted to low- and middle-income families.
The plan would require full reimbursement of any excess 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. Democrats warned that it would unfairly penalize families who improved their status, through new jobs or promotions, after having received the subsidy.
The measure could raise as much as $43.9 billion over 10 years, that didn’t garner much favor with Democrats.
"Pay for this bill – there are plenty of ways that we can," Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said on the House floor today . "Unfortunately this closed rule allows for no discussion other than the extremely partisan middle class tax increase, which the Republicans have proposed to pay for this bill."
Republicans insisted that the measure only recaptured credits that were inappropriately granted.
"We have heard consistently, over and over again … is that that somehow recapturing overpayments of healthcare subsidies is now considered a tax," Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) responded. "At a time when we face a $16 trillion debt, we cannot afford to not recapture all the money owed to the federal government. My friends on the left want you to believe if you recapture dollars that were given inappropriately, that’s tax increase."
Paulsen’s bill will get a House vote following additional minutes of debate this afternoon. The bill had 240 co-sponsors at last tally, more than enough to pass.