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CLSA in InsideHealthPolicy: Congress Passes CR That Funds CHIP For 6 Years, Delays ACA Taxes

January 22, 2018 | Amy Lotven | InsideHealthPolicy

Congress Monday (Jan. 22) voted to re-open the government through Feb. 8, fund CHIP for six years and delay three of the Affordable Care Act’s industry taxes after Senate Democrats agreed to a deal following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) pledge to hold a vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program if a deal is not reached by the next funding deadline. Industry stakeholders were pleased the bill delays the ACA taxes, but said they are continuing to push for them to be permanently repealed.

The House passed the continuing resolution 266 – 150 after the Senate approved it by a 81-18 margin.

Democrats, many of whom voted against the continuing resolution, will continue to push for additional health care policies including funding for community health centers, which also expired on Sept. 30, more support for responding to the opioid crisis and certain Medicare extenders left out of the legislation. A member of House GOP leadership said there isn’t a schedule yet for voting on the extenders.

In addition to funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, the CR delays the so-called “Cadillac tax” on high cost insurance and the medical device tax for two years, and also pauses the health insurance tax for 2019.

Stakeholders who have long been pushing for Congress to delay the industry fees celebrated the legislation but noted they will still fight to get the taxes permanently repealed.

“We applaud Congress for approving a critically important two-year delay of the 40 percent ‘Cadillac Tax’ on employer-sponsored health coverage as part of the government funding bill,” American Benefit Council President James Klein said.

“Because companies typically make health plan decisions 18 to 24 months in advance, employers were reluctantly considering curtailing benefits or increasing workers’ out-of-pocket costs to meet the prior 2020 deadline. Today’s welcome reprieve allows employers to maintain the health coverage working families need and want while we continue to work to address this tax permanently,” Klein said.

Annette Guarisco Fildes, president and CEO of the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), called the vote a victory for her group, which has been working to repeal the tax since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

“But, while ERIC celebrates today’s win, our work is far from over. We will continue to fight for the full repeal of the Cadillac tax, because without it, employers will still be forced to ready themselves for its eventual implementation. To prepare, they will start scaling back benefits and increasingly shift rising health care costs to employees. This is a game where no one wins and it must be permanently stopped,” she said, noting that existing legislation in the House and Senate already has strong bipartisan support.

Sara Radcliffe, president and CEO of the California Life Sciences Association, applauded the two-year delay of the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, but also said that CLSA “will continue to advocate for full and permanent repeal, so that the U.S. does not jeopardize our position as a global leader in medical technology innovation.” — Amy Lotven (alotven@iwpnews.com)

Read at InsideHealthPolicy.