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.