Fri February 3, 2017

The U.S. Senate and House have each passed a budget resolution vehicle (S.Con.Res.3) that ultimately will include legislative language to repeal the funding provisions of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.” The votes were mainly along party lines with 51-48 in the Senate and 227-198 in the House. The congressional committees of jurisdiction will begin work on the reconciliation bill in February and March debating and drafting language to repeal the tax provisions and mandates of the law. Reconciliation will need a simple majority of votes to pass, 218 in the House and 51 in the Senate and cannot be filibustered. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) have signaled that repealing and replacing Obamacare is a high priority. On Inauguration Day, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to take actions to “ease the burden” of Obamacare.  

Among the provisions in Obamacare to be repealed is the 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of medical devices. In late 2015, Congress placed a two-year moratorium on the tax from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017. There is bipartisan support to repeal the provision through the dismantling of Obamacare or as a stand-alone bill. Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) has introduced the bipartisan “Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2017” which would repeal the tax after the end of the moratorium. The bill currently has 245 cosponsors. In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced the "Medical Device Access and Innovation Protection Act" that has both Republican and Democratic cosponsors.