Updated Dec 16, 2019

Government funding bill deal will repeal key ACA taxes

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Congress is expected to soon announce a deal to repeal the Affordable Care Act's health insurance, medical device and "Cadillac" employer health plan taxes — and to raise the smoking age to 21, according to a senior House Democratic aide familiar with talks.

Why it matters: The decision is a colossal win for the health care industry.

  • If this wasn't good enough news for the industry, the deal won't address surprise medical bills — and it avoids prescription drug prices except for the CREATES Act, which helps generics get to market faster.
  • The taxes have been repeatedly delayed. And while the industry has pushed for their repeal for years, it hasn't yet been successful.

Between the lines: Voters are decidedly not asking Washington to lift industry taxes while avoiding dealing with two of the most popular health care issues, but if that's how this plays out, it's a great indicator that the industry's lobbying strength is as good as ever.

  • It's also a good sign that cost control — the intention of the Cadillac tax, a 40% excise tax on the most generous employer plans — is still not very popular with lawmakers, even as health care costs continue to rise.
  • The tax was expected to raise $200 billion over 10 years.

The other side: The industry says that the ACA taxes end up getting passed along to patients.

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