Washington was a hive of activity again over the weekend and into yesterday, as legislators worked to hash out a deal to re-open the federal government and raise the debt ceiling.
But a proposed delay of the the medical device tax that’s part of Obamacare is reportedly dead in the water, after Senate Democrats rejected a plan by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would have seen the levy put off for 2 years.
The new plan, negotiated between majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would fund the federal government until Jan. 15, 2014, and prolong the debt limit into February, according to news reports. But that plan leaves out the medical device tax, despite signs over the weekend that a delay was likely.
Reid pushed to take repealing or delaying the medtech levy off the table, according to a "source familiar with the negotiations," Roll Call reported. Last week Health & Human Services Dept. secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the White House is likewise opposed to delaying or doing away with the tax. The Reid/McConnell plan would also delay the healthcare reform law’s reinsurance fee for a year and strengthen income verification requirements for people receiving subsidies on the exchanges, according to The Hill.
The government shutdown is nearing the 2-week mark after legislators could not agree on a spending bill to fund federal agencies.
Senate Republicans are slated to convene later today to discuss the Reid/McConnell plan, Roll Call reported.
The 6-point Collins plan would have funded the government for 6 months at sequestration levels, extended the debt limit until Jan. 31 of next year, delayed the medical device tax for 2 years and made up for the budget shortfall with a "pension-smoothing" provision, given federal agencies leeway to deal with sequestration cuts, included income verification measures for insurance subsidies, and inaugurated an immediate budget conference with Jan. 15, 2014, reporting deadline, according to the website.