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From Health Law Daily, October 26, 2015

House passes bill repealing key ACA provisions, but future uncertain

By Mary Damitio, J.D.

The House of Representatives passed a budget reconciliation bill to repeal key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) and to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year. The proposed legislation (H.R. 3762) seeks to repeal various ACA components including, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the medical device tax, the “Cadillac tax,” and the individual and employer mandates. While the legislation would most likely be vetoed, it also reportedly faces some obstacles in the Senate from Republicans who feel that the bill does not go far enough in repealing the health reform law.

Budget reconciliation. The bill was passed through a special legislative process known as budget reconciliation, which can be used to consider tax, spending, and debt limit legislation in an expedited manner. Notably, a budget reconciliation bill requires only a simple majority vote to pass and cannot be filibustered in the Senate. While the proposed bill is unlikely to become law, some have suggested that the move will allow Republicans to use the vote to gain political support in upcoming elections.

ACA provisions. The proposed legislation seeks to repeal the Medical device excise tax (Section 9009), which levies a 2.3-percent excise tax on the sale of certain medical devices. It also targets the so-called “Cadillac tax,” (Section 9001), which imposes taxes for certain employer-sponsored health plans. Additionally, the bill would eliminate the individual (Section 1501), employer mandates (Section 1511), and the Prevention and Public Health Fund (Section 4002), which provides funding to public health and prevention initiatives.

Planned Parenthood. The legislation would cut also off federal funds to Planned Parenthood for a period of one year and divert the funds to community health centers. The vote comes after various investigations were launched by the House in the wake of videos released by an anti-abortion group purporting to show Planned Parenthood providers discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue for profit. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) was chosen to lead the new Select Investigative Panel at the Committee on Energy and Commerce to review medical procedures and abortion business practices. Planned Parenthood has stated that experts have concluded that the videos were heavily edited and distorted the actual events.

Reaction. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and candidate for Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis), said in a released statement, “With this bill, we can finally confront the president with the reality confronting working families every day: higher costs and lower quality. We can put on the president’s desk a bill that will dismantle Obamacare and lay the foundation for a patient-centered system. This bill would give patients more control over their health care, and now I urge the Senate to approve it.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said in a released statement, “This legislation, which has no chance of becoming law, would return our country to the days when millions fewer people had health care coverage, take critical health care services away from women across the country by defunding Planned Parenthood, take vital public health resources away from states and communities, and put power back in the hands of insurance companies—not patients and their families.

Obstacles. Seven House Republicans reportedly voted against the bill because it did not seek an outright repeal of the ACA. Additionally, some Senate Republicans have also stated that they intended to vote against the bill because it does not repeal the entire ACA, and the conservative group, the Heritage Action, has called on its members to vote against the legislation.

Companies: Heritage Action

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