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Marketplace Morning Report
Raising the Debt Ceiling

As deadline nears, debt ceiling fight drags on

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Oct 15, 2013
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Congressional negotiators are still struggling to put together a deal to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling. Some of the hard bargaining involves the president’s health care law. 

The negotiators are apparently considering a delay of some of the health care law’s new taxes, including the so-called “belly button” tax. It’s a flat fee of about $63 a year for every person on an insurance plan. It would be paid mainly by employers and unions. They’ve been pushing for at least a delay of the tax. Health economist Austin Frakt says they’d really like to get rid of it altogether.

“Nobody wants to pay a tax,” he said.  “So naturally, if they can they’re going to fight it.”

Another part of Obamacare that could be delayed: the tax on medical devices like wheelchairs and pacemakers. Amitabh Chandra is a health economist at Harvard. He says a delay in this tax could be a big deal.

“It’s a tax of about 2.5 percent on the revenues of all medical device companies and so  that would be a tidy sum of money,” he says.

The congressional negotiators are reportedly also considering a requirement that the government certify that people are eligible for subsidies to buy insurance. 

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