House Passes the Health Care Cost Reduction Act

On Thursday, June 7, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the 30th time to repeal or defund part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) with the passage with H.R. 436, the Health Care Cost Reduction Act, which repeals the medical device tax created under PPACA and make changes to the tax code that are intended to boost the use of health-related savings accounts. Even though the bipartisan bill passed with 37 Democratic votes in House, just like virtually all of its predecessors, it now faces a veto-threat from President Obama and the prospect of a quiet death in the Senate.

In the House, the GOP was able to garner its 37 bipartisan votes because of the device-tax repeal, which is unpopular even with liberal lawmakers in states and districts that include device companies. The bill also would repeal PPACA’s restrictions on the use of account-based plans to purchase over-the-counter prescription drugs, which also helped pick up some Democratic votes. However, as with several other recent ideas that have had bipartisan support like the IPAB repeal and the student loan interest issue, bipartisanship will come to a screeching halt in the Senate because of the pay-for the House leadership chose to offset the cost of the bill. The financing mechanism in the measure would require individuals who receive premium tax credits to purchase health insurance through exchanges to repay any overpayments they may receive in full. The Administration has threatened a veto of the bill and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that he will not bring the bill to the Senate floor specifically because of that provision.

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