Lawmakers are taking multiple approaches to reduce the effectiveness of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). The tactics include familiar efforts like a repeal of the health law’s medical device tax and a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, as well as a more novel approach—Congressman Steve King’s (R-Iowa) bill to prohibit ACA-related Supreme Court decisions from being cited as precedent.
Medical device tax. The Protect Medical Innovation Act, reintroduced by Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-Minn), would permanently repeal the ACA’s 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices. Similar legislation was proposed in the 114th Congress, where the permanent repeal of the tax failed. However, the 114th Congress did pass, with bipartisan support, a two-year suspension of the medical device tax, which was signed into law by President Obama. The California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) praised the reintroduction of the tax, noting that without permanent repeal, the tax will hamper innovation and investment in medical technology research and development.
Precedent. Congressman King introduced the bill to bar ACA-related precedent in what he called "an effort to look ahead and bar the Supreme Court from citing Obamacare in forthcoming decisions as binding precedent." The proposed legislation is designed to override Supreme Court’s decisions, including King v. Burwell and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In addition to furthering his goal of passing laws to make it seem as though the health reform law "had not been enacted," King’s also stated that the bill was important to protect Congress’ authority under Article I of the Constitution, so that "Congress is the only entity of our government making or changing laws."
Other measures. Republican leaders also announced that the budget reconciliation bill designed to repeal the ACA would also include measures to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) called a press conference to respond to the news, saying: "We are going to stand and fight for millions of women in this country for their access to their health care to be able to make decisions for themselves." After meeting with President-elect Trump’s nominee for HHS Secretary, Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga), Senator Murray called Price "a deeply troubling choice to lead HHS." Murray also expressed concerns that Price is a proponent of measures including "draconian cuts to Medicaid" and an end to the guarantee of coverage under Medicare.
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