Continuing the Republican propensity to use every single policy and political issue imaginable as an excuse to launch attacks against Obamacare, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) — a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee — asserted on Tuesday that Congressional efforts to comprehensively overhaul America’s tax code would include measures to repeal several important Obamacare funding provisions.
Boustany explained that the Obamacare tax measures “will be considered, most likely, in the context of fundamental tax reform,” since wrapping them into a bipartisan tax reform bill makes them more difficult to vote against. Among the provisions on the chopping block would be Obamacare’s 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, as well as a tax on so-called “Cadillac” health plans that wealthier Americans may choose to purchase.
The GOP-led House already voted to repeal the medical device tax, and as many as 17 Democratic senators have voiced their support for getting rid of the tax. But revenue sources such as the medical device tax and the fee on high-end health plans are crucial to funding Obamacare’s subsidies for buying private insurance, its expansion of the public Medicaid program, and its consumer protections for Americans pursuing health coverage.
While there has been some debate over the wisdom of the medical device tax — particularly since some lawmakers worry it could place too much burden on hospitals and device manufacturers — it will help provide tens of billions of dollars in Obamacare funding, along with the law’s other tax measures. Replacing that funding won’t come out of thin air. The lawmakers pushing for repeal will need to make sure that alternative revenue is available to carry out important provisions of the health reform law that seek to extend coverage to millions of Americans.
Boustany’s comments make one thing crystal clear: Obamacare opponents will continue using every possible piece of legislation as a vehicle for obstructing health reform. And, given national lawmakers’ mercurial approach to budgeting, there’s always the distinct possibility that Congress will be tempted to take away more and more funding once they begin chipping away at some of Obamacare’s revenue sources.