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ACA Funding Threatened by House Committee Vote

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, June 4, 2012

Supporters of HR 436 (Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2011) cited familiar arguments about losing jobs, taxing innovation, reducing access to healthcare, and increasing healthcare costs. In his opening statement to the committee, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn), the chief architect of the bill, positioned the excise tax as "an attack on American innovation" that would "push research and development and manufacturing abroad and put American jobs at risk."

Opponents of the bill stressed the cost of the repeal—about $29 billion over 10 years, and the 30 million additional people healthcare reform is expected to help but wouldn't be able to if the excise tax is repealed.

They argued that the negative effects were exaggerated and nothing more than an effort to discredit healthcare reform. They also accused the medical device industry of reneging on the agreement it made in 2010 to support ACA if the excise tax was reduced from a proposed 5% to the current 2.3%.

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), the top Democrat on the committee, said in his opening remarks that Republicans were doing nothing more than "resurrecting a familiar foil healthcare reform." Are these bills "the best use of scarce federal dollars in times of fiscal austerity?" he asked. He called the excise tax repeal effort "deceitful" because Republicans offered no way to pay for the lost revenue.

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