Chipping away at Obamacare, Part II: Supreme Court case, 3 bills

Chipping away at Obamacare, Part II: Supreme Court case, 3 bills

The new Republican Congress is working on its stated goal of killing the Affordable Care Act with 1,000 cuts, rather than attempting outright repeal that would surely be vetoed. A couple of bills will likely come up for discussion, but the biggest news could come from the Supreme Court.

The Court announced last November that it would hear the case of King v. Burwell, which challenges the ability of the IRS to offer federal subsidies to individuals in states that use the federal health exchange rather than set up their own state exchange. With more than half of states relying on the federal exchange and thousands of individuals receiving federal subsidies, a decision that such subsidies are not permitted under the law would have a major impact. At this point, it looks as if the Court could go either way.

Both the Congressional bills have to do with taxes. One would eliminate the tax on certain types of medical devices. The other would eliminate the excise tax on high cost health plans (the –Cadillac tax”), which was designed to help pay for other parts of the health care act.

Although both measures have some bipartisan support, Obamacare supporters could argue that cutting the taxes would put a dent in the federal coffers.

Another bill passed the House unanimously on the first day of the session, but would likely have little impact on employers. It would allow businesses with fewer than 50 employees to hire veterans but not count them as employees under the employer mandate, which requires coverage with 50 or more workers. Veterans already receive health insurance through the Veterans Administration.

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