Hatch Amendment Raises Excise Tax Threshold “For Any State With A Name That Begins With The Letter ‘U’”

Members of the Senate Finance committee have submitted 534 amendments to Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) health care mark. Democrats introduced several amendments, including provisions re-instating the public insurance option, striking the network of consumer-driven cooperatives, expanding Medicare to Americans aged 54 to 65, and improving affordability standards.

And while Republicans have proposed several compromise amendments, most of their provisions seek to delay the mark-up process and undermine the bill. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), for instance, introduced an amendment (Hatch F7) to “add transition relief for the excise tax on high cost insurance plans for any State with a name the begins with the letter ‘U.’” The amendment would increase the threshold at which high-cost insurance plans could be taxed.

Below are some of the other superfluous amendments introduced by Republicans:

Amendment/SponsorProvisionEnsign 409Transparency in Czars.Hatch 511Prohibits authorized or appropriated federal funds under the Mark from being distributed to or used by ACORN.Ensign 543Strike the word “fee” everywhere it appears in the bill and replace with the word “tax.”Roberts 137To prevent Medicare payment policies which discourage physicians from fulfilling their Hippocratic Oath to maintain the good of their patients as their highest priority, and instead encourage the rationing of health care.Roberts 144To ensure that if people like the hometown hospital they have, they can keep it.

Hatch rationalizes his amendment by explaining that “the transition relief provided in the Chairman’s mark for the 17 states with the least affordable health care is obviously arbitrary and unfair. What about the 18th state? This amendment would add further transition relief in another, but no less arbitrary way to certain states.”