No matter who wins the upcoming Senate race in Alaska, the Republicans will be in majority, and this session, they’ll likely begin to dismantle some of the more easily dismantlable parts of ObamaCare.
One of the first to go will likely be repealing the medical device tax that was passed to help pay for the Affordable Care Act. The 2.3 percent sales tax on medical devices– surgical gloves, x-ray machines, defibrillators, even bandages– expected to bring in $30 billion dollars over the next ten years. The tax is low-hanging fruit. Some Democrats have been trying to get rid of it, mostly because of the large concentration of medical device companies in Massachusetts, New York and California, and because of the army of lobbyists the industry has hired.
What’s also on the chopping block is the employer mandate, which will, at some point in 2015, require employers that hire 50 or more people to provide insurance, or else face a fine, to any employee who works more than 30 hours a week. Many, even on the left, considered it an ill conceived idea which would ultimately disincentivize companies from hiring more full time employees, say nothing of creating a confusing web of regulations for employers.
An idea that they might steal from Democrats, specifically from Sen. Mark Begich, would allow insurers to offer lower-cost, higher-deductible “copper plans” on the exchanges that don’t meet Obamacare’s current quality standards.
However, as New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait points out, all of these initiatives will end up increasing, rather than decreasing the deficit, which is more than a little ironic considering that in their victory op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, promised to work to address “a national debt that has Americans stealing from their children and grandchildren, robbing them of benefits that they will never see and leaving them with burdens that will be nearly impossible to repay.”
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