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Lawmakers press Obama for meeting on ObamaCare tax

Lawmakers press Obama for meeting on ObamaCare tax
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers is requesting a meeting with President Obama to discuss repealing ObamaCare’s “Cadillac Tax.”

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The 40 percent tax on high-cost health insurance plans, set to take effect in 2018, was intended to help restrain healthcare costs, but it has drawn opposition from some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worried that it will end up shifting healthcare costs onto workers. 

Sens. Dean HellerDean HellerReid bids farewell to the Senate Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech Governments and businesses: Teaming up for taxpayers MORE (R-Nev.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownWeek ahead in defense: Anticipation builds for State pick; Pentagon chief's last trip abroad Manchin urging colleagues to block funding bill as shutdown looms Democrats tamp down talk of shutdown MORE (D-Ohio), Martin HeinrichMartin HeinrichBudowsky: Did Putin elect Trump? This Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks Overnight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails MORE (D-N.M.) and Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) wrote to President Obama on Tuesday requesting a meeting “as soon as possible.”

“Finding a path forward on the repeal of this provision is a bipartisan and bicameral end-of-year priority for each of us and a large number of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” the lawmakers write. “As we continue to negotiate the repeal of this tax in pending, must-pass legislative packages in Congress, we respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss a plan to eliminate this tax.”

Repealing the tax is also a priority of Democratic leadership in both chambers. Republicans are against the tax as well, but many could be reluctant to hand Democrats a win on an issue they view as created by Democrats. 

The lawmakers indicate in the letter that they are looking to include repeal of the tax in a larger package. 

Heller on Tuesday gave a speech on the Senate floor suggesting that Cadillac Tax repeal could be included in a package renewing a range of tax breaks known as “tax extenders.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the tax earlier this month as a way to bring down healthcare costs and to pay for the Affordable Care Act. 

He also noted, though, that, “We are always in a position to have conversations with people that have an authentic interest in strengthening the Affordable Care Act.”

The tax is projected to bring in $91 billion over ten years. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTax reform: Starting place for jobs, growth Overnight Finance: Senate Dems dig in as shutdown looms | Trump taps fast-food exec for Labor chief | Portland's new CEO tax Mnuchin, Price meet with GOP senators MORE (R-Utah) earlier this month noted that is “a lot of money” and makes paying for repeal a challenge. 

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators move to protect 'Dreamers' Manchin urging colleagues to block funding bill as shutdown looms The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Ill.), though, has suggested that repeal of the tax would not need to be paid for. 

The lawmakers on the letter warn that employers will increase the deductibles and other out of pocket expenses that employees have to pay in a bid to avoid hitting the tax. The tax hits plans with costs that exceed $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families. 

Defenders of the tax argue that it gives employers an incentive to support payment reforms and efficiencies to bring down the cost of healthcare, and that to a certain extent increased cost-sharing from employees gives them an incentive to seek out more efficient, lower-cost care.