Bipartisan bill delays billions in ObamaCare taxes

Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.) proposed a bill Tuesday that would delay for two years ObamaCare's collection of billions worth of new taxes on health insurance companies.

ObamaCare imposes a new tax on health insurance companies starting in 2014. The health insurance provider (HIP) tax is expected to collect at least $8 billion next year, and as much as $15 billion by 2018.

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While technically a "fee," the IRS is treating it as an excise tax that applies to any insurance company with premiums above $25 million per year. It will be paid proportionally — the more premiums a company has, the more it will pay in fees.

That tax is meant to help fund subsidies to people buying insurance under the health insurance exchanges. However, Boustany and Bera warned that this tax is expected to be passed on to consumers, and said delaying it for two years would help keep costs down.

"The health insurance tax resulting from ObamaCare has a severely detrimental impact on the affordability of health care for the American people," Boustany said Tuesday.

"Employers purchasing fully insured coverage, in addition to individuals who purchase coverage on their own, will face higher premiums due to this tax," he said. "Delaying this tax will reduce the financial burden on families, small businesses, and seniors when they purchase coverage."

Bera said the HIP tax is "problematic" and is one of the areas of ObamaCare that need to be fixed.

"The Affordable Care Act is giving millions of people health care who didn’t have it previously, but we need to work together to fix the areas of it that are problematic and make it work better for the American people," Bera said. "This bill would delay the collection of the health insurance tax until 2016, to allow health insurance markets time to stabilize while providing immediate relief to working families, small businesses and seniors.”

By Wednesday afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she opposed the bill as a measure that would cost too much to implement.

"Leader Pelosi believes this legislation is unwise and unnecessary, and it would add as much as $20 billion to the deficit," said a Pelosi spokeswoman.

The Small Business and Family Relief Act, H.R. 3367, would delay the HIP tax until 2016. It also requires companies to return to consumers any higher premiums charged in anticipation of the tax.

In February, Boustany proposed a bill, H.R. 763, that would repeal the fee entirely. As of today, that bill has 229 co-sponsors.

Members of the House have proposed several bills to tweak or delay ObamaCare in the last few days, particularly in response to news of the failed ObamaCare website.

Aside from the Boustany-Bera bill, members proposed two others on Monday. One from Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) would prohibit any new spending on the HealthCare.gov website without offsetting that spending with cuts.

The other, from Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), would waive the individual insurance mandate for one year for anyone whose employer-sponsored health plan has to be terminated under ObamaCare.

Millions of plans around the county are being eliminated because they fail to meet new standards for an acceptable plan. That has led many Republicans to say President Obama broke his promise that people can keep their health plan if they like it.

"President Obama promised if you like your current health care plan you could keep it, but many people are finding out this is simply not true," Long said. "This is simply not fair, and my legislation would give individuals and families whose health insurance is being terminated a one-year break from the law's individual mandate."

— This story was updated at 2:11 p.m. to include the statement from Pelosi's office.