Senate Republicans consider controversial ObamaCare move in new health bill

As senators attempt to draft healthcare legislation that can pass with a simple majority, they are seriously considering retaining some ObamaCare taxes for longer than the House-passed bill would allow.

Priorities for Republicans drafting the bill include a slow phase-out of extra federal funds for Medicaid expansion, an increase in new tax credits for purchasing insurance and the addition of funding for opioid abuse treatment.

In order to get the legislation passed, GOP lawmakers must pay for those items since the Senate healthcare bill must save at least as much money as the House’s version.

According to Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the Senate’s third-ranking Republican, some senators are seeking additions to the healthcare bill that could cost the government, and savings would have to be realized elsewhere, perhaps by maintaining some of the taxes.

Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is mired in the healthcare discussions, said that he prefers to repeal all of the taxes but that senators would “look at everything.”

“We’re not going to ignore anything,” Hatch told reporters Tuesday. “We’re going to have to really look very carefully.”

Although delaying the repeal of ObamaCare or keeping more of the failing health plan’s taxes would be the easiest solutions, doing either risks creating a backlash from the right which might endanger the bill. Approximately 45 conservative groups and activists declared in a letter Tuesday that it “would be a mistake” for a Senate bill to exclude the tax repeals that were a part of the bill passed by the House in May.

The numerous taxes in question were included in ObamaCare to help fund the 2010 health law.

The Hill reported that “The House’s bill would repeal nearly all of ObamaCare’s taxes retroactively to the start of 2017. It would wait to repeal the 0.9 percent Medicare surtax on high earners until 2023 and would delay the implementation of the ‘Cadillac tax’ on high-cost health plans until 2026.”

“I think most of the taxes are going to go away for sure — the taxes that affect consumers, your tax on prescriptions, tax on medical devices, tax on insurance plans,” Thune said. “But our members are still having a conversation about if we want to make changes that are, in the end, going to require some additional revenue where that might come from.”

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