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Piecemeal Repeal? Here Are Six Bills In Congress That Go After Obamacare

by Countable | 3.20.17

The next step in the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) is scheduled to come on Friday, when several congressional committees arrive at a due date for producing legislation repealing the healthcare law.

The January 27 deadline was imposed by the budget resolution that Congress passed earlier this month, but it's really a deadline in name only. For starters, the budget resolution isn't actually a law, it's more of a non-binding, high-level framework for how the government expects spend money as legally authorized spending comes from appropriations bills. It also doesn't preclude repeal legislation that conforms with reconciliation instructions from expedited consideration

But whether or not Congress releases repeal legislation Friday, we wanted to give you a sense of what portions of the Affordable Care Act will likely be repealed eventually. We summarized five bills currently in Congress now that go after elements of Obamacare and could be included in the final repeal bill, along with a sixth that might be on some lawmakers' wish lists but may be too controversial to pursue.

H.R. 285: This bill repeals both the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and the employer mandate, which requires businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide them with health insurance. Taken together, the mandates constitute the two central pillars of the Affordable Care Act, because they force individuals without employer-provided coverage to get it from the exchanges while compelling businesses to provide insurance to their workers if they meet that criterion.

H.R. 184: This bill repeals the 2.3 percent tax on medical device manufacturers and importers. The tax has already been delayed by Congress, which was done out of concern that the tax would be passed on to consumers.

H.R. 173: This bill repeals the so-called "Cadillac tax" on high cost health insurance plans that are sponsored by employers. The tax imposes a 40 percent excise tax on plans that are valued at more than $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families (premium payments and contributions to health savings / spending accounts count toward that total). It was supposed to take effect in 2018, but it was delayed until 2020 at the earliest.

H.R. 182: This bill would prohibit the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) from spending any fees it collects on advertisements for health insurance exchanges or plans offered on them. In 2015, HHS budgeted $35 million to run TV ads in both English and Spanish marketing HealthCare.gov.

H.R. 246: This bill repeals an annual fee that health insurance providers would be required to pay based on the amount of premiums they write each year. It was originally scheduled to take effect this year, but Congress delayed it until 2018.

H.R. 177: This is the bill that could raise some constitutional questions if it's ever enacted. It prevents the Supreme Court from citing three Obamacare-related cases as precedent in the future — two which affirmed aspects of the law and one which provided a nuanced exemption on religious freedom grounds. The bill cites a clause of the constitution that gives Congress the ability to limit courts' jurisdiction, but there are questions as to whether that extends to determining what can or cannot be a precedent.

Tell your lawmakers how (or whether) you want them to proceed with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act below.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Pete Souza - White House / Public Domain)

Countable

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