Congress passed and President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill on Friday that includes $622 billion in tax breaks and delays or suspends several ACA taxes. Given labor unions’ opposition to the Cadillac tax, the bill is seen as a victory for Democrats as much as for Republicans.
The AP (12/21, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports that the budget deal passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last week suggests that Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act “may be able to get more by chipping away at it than trying to take the whole thing down at once.” The legislation delayed the “widely criticized” Cadillac tax and suspended the medical device tax and the health insurance tax. Meanwhile, supporters of the health law “are trying to downplay the consequences of the budget deal as superficial dings,” pointing out that the measure did not affect coverage provisions that have brought the nation’s uninsured rate “to a historic low of 9 percent.”
The AP (12/19, Werner) said in a separate article that the two-year postponement of the Cadillac tax is a “victory for unions.” The Hill (12/18, Marcos) said of the Cadillac tax delay, “Ahead of an election year in which labor’s ground support will be crucial to Democratic races around the country, it is a significant win for the party.”
The Hill (12/18, Bolton) reported in its “Floor Action” blog that the deal “reduces revenue for the landmark healthcare reform law by $35 billion.” The Administration opposed the tax delays “but won several policy victories in exchange.”
The New York Times (12/19, A1, Herszenhorn, Subscription Publication) reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a speech on the Senate floor Friday, “This legislation helps our economy, helps our national security, and strikes more blows to a partisan health law that hurts the middle class.”
The Rutland (VT) Herald (12/21, Goswami) reports that Vermont officials “are hailing” the two-year delay of the Cadillac tax. According to the article, many individual and family plan were expected to be hit by the 40 percent excise tax in 2018. A spokesman for Gov. Peter Shumlin said the delay “provides some breathing room for employers.”
Meanwhile, in exchange for Democratic support for a provision lifting the “decades-long ban on U.S. crude oil exports,” the Los Angeles Times (12/19, Mascaro) reported, Republicans dropped efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Also reporting on the budget deal were Bloomberg Politics (12/18, House, Wasson), USA Today (12/19, Troyan), The Hill (12/18, Schroeder), McClatchy (12/19, Douglas), and Politico (12/18, Sherman, French, Palmer).