Congressional Republicans are considering holding off on repealing some of ObamaCare's taxes, according to lobbyists familiar with the discussions.
GOP lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee discussed the possibility of keeping some of the taxes in place during a retreat last week at the Library of Congress, the sources say.
Even if some of the taxes are not removed as part of the initial repeal bill, it does not necessarily mean they will remain indefinitely. Some ObamaCare taxes could be dealt with as part of a larger tax reform bill later in the year.
Still, there is at least a possibility that some taxes could remain in place to provide revenue for a replacement healthcare measure.
Discussions are still in flux, however, and ObamaCare taxes could be repealed right away. Including the law’s taxes in a repeal bill could be an easier political move for Republicans, given the importance many have placed on repealing as much of the law as possible.
Asked about the possibility of keeping some ObamaCare taxes, a House GOP aide said no decisions have been made yet.
“Members are still reviewing all options on the table and no decisions have been finalized about how we will smoothly transition away from this failing law and toward reforms that deliver affordable, quality, health care choices based on what patients and families need,” the House GOP aide said.
ObamaCare includes a range of taxes that, along with cuts to Medicare, funded its expansion of coverage. Those taxes are both on industry groups, such as taxes on health insurers and medical device companies, and on people, like increased Medicare taxes for high earners.
Some conservatives have long pushed for repealing the entire health law, including the taxes. But other Republicans, including Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), want to keep some of the taxes to provide revenue for a replacement plan.
“There needs to be some source of revenue,” Cassidy told The Hill. He noted that various healthcare industry groups already worked out deals when ObamaCare was being passed in 2009 to give up some money in exchange for increasing coverage, which would help their business.
“As far as I'm concerned, we can leave those on the table," he said.
Cassidy, along with House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), earlier this year introduced an ObamaCare replacement plan that would have left in place ObamaCare’s taxes.
Defenders of ObamaCare are already warning that if Republicans go ahead with repealing all of ObamaCare’s taxes, there will be hardly any money left for providing coverage in a Republican replacement plan.
An analysis from the Brookings Institution this week noted that if all of ObamaCare’s taxes are repealed, Republicans would only have about 40 percent of the $1.2 trillion cost of ObamaCare left to spend towards a replacement.
The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warned in a report this week that Republicans could turn to harmful cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to finance their replacement plan if they repealed all of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes.
“Given Republicans’ opposition to revenue increases, such as those used to fund the ACA, they most likely would turn to Medicaid and Medicare as their primary source of savings to finance a ‘replacement’ measure, creating tremendous pressure to radically restructure those programs along the lines of past Republican proposals,” the report said.