Republicans focus on tax hikes in arguments against healthcare bill

House Republicans have released a new report indicating they will continue to hammer away at last year's healthcare law by arguing it imposes hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes in order to pay for health programs and that the combination of taxes and new health mandates on companies will cripple U.S. job growth.

Republicans later this month are expected to pass H.R. 2, which would repeal the healthcare law, and H.R. 9, which instructs four key committees to come up with new healthcare proposals. A House report that accompanies H.R. 9 offers more detailed guidance for how the Committees on Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Ways and Means should proceed.

The report's top mission for committees is to promote job creation. It cites a Heritage Foundation finding that the current healthcare law will increase taxes by $503 billion by 2019, which many Republicans believe will hurt U.S. job growth. The report also notes an estimate from the National Federation of Independent Business that the employer mandate in the healthcare law could destroy as many as 1 million jobs, most at small companies.

Late last week, Republicans welcomed a related finding from the Congressional Budget Office that the law will increase taxes by $770 billion by 2021 and spend $540 billion in that same period on healthcare programs. While Democrats argue these numbers result in a $230 billion surplus for the bill, Republicans say this surplus is achieved by raising taxes and spending money on a program that business says will stunt job growth, which is why Republicans have taken to calling last year's law the "job-killing healthcare law."

"Even if one accepts the flawed premise of the smoke-and-mirrors the Democrats used to claim their massive government takeover of health care would reduce the deficit, there is no denying that repealing this law will cut spending and prevent tax hikes," House Budget Committee spokesman Conor Sweeney said in an e-mail.

The House report also asks committees to focus on language that lowers the cost of healthcare. Here again, Republicans find the healthcare law lacking, and the report cites a CBO estimate that premiums on individual plans will rise 10 to 13 percent under the law.

The report also asks committees to focus on measures that allow people to keep their current healthcare plans. It says the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expects 1.2 million seniors to leave Medicare Advantage or the Medicare drug plan and that 7.4 million seniors will lose or be denied access to Medicare Advantage under current law.

The report asks committees to focus on several other priorities, including expanding access to insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, medical tort reform, adding incentives to encourage personal responsibility for coverage, prohibit taxpayer funded abortions and ensuring that measures do not "accelerate the insolvency of entitlement programs."