Looming Deadlines on Health Care Taxes Require Urgent Action

While manufacturers are disappointed that the Senate was unable to pass a full repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in July, legislative efforts to combat the negative consequences of the ACA must not only continue but also be resolved before new taxes raise health care costs.The manufacturing industry has a history of leading the business community in providing health benefits to employees; 98 percent of National Association of Manufacturers’ members provide health insurance to employees. For that tradition to continue, Congress must act quickly to prevent the job-killing ACA-related taxes from going into effect in 2018. That means taking quick and decisive action when the House and Senate return from their August recess.

A new Oliver Wyman report just released demonstrates the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) will result in higher health insurance premiums totaling $22 billion for more than 100 million Americans nationwide. This ACA tax will be paid by many, including those who are “fully insured,” meaning those employers who work directly with insurance brokers to purchase employee health plans. Even retirees who are accessing insurance through Medicare Advantage programs will be hit by the HIT.

For manufacturers who are fully insured and those purchasing individual plans, this tax only adds to rising costs and higher premiums. Joe Eddy, president and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing, told his story before the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier this year. He explained the ACA taxes and compliance burdens “have been costly, disruptive and distracting from the things we are good at doing as manufacturers.”

According to the Oliver Wyman report summarized here, the HIT could raise the cost of premiums by an additional $540 for employees’ families receiving health benefits from fully insured larger employers. Small business owners and their employees could shoulder an additional $500 for family coverage as a result of the HIT. These cost increases are preventable if Congress acts. Manufacturers provide competitive health benefits to attract and maintain skilled employees and because manufacturers know it’s the right thing to do. Congress should be making it easier to provide insurance, not more difficult.

Regrettably, it’s not just the HIT. The medical device tax—another tax that discourages innovation, growth and job creation—is ready to go into effect next year. In 2015, a temporary suspension of the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers was enacted after 29,000 jobs were lost as a result of the misguided tax. However, that two-year relief runs out at the end of 2017, making full repeal of this tax critical to manufacturers of medical devices. Manufacturers support immediate action to permanently repeal the medical device tax to prevent this tax from eliminating jobs and hurting local economies in all 50 states.

It was unfortunate that the Senate did not pass major health care reform legislation in July, but manufacturers urge the Senate not to give up efforts. Both the House and Senate must advance opportunities to address the burdensome taxes associated with the ACA because the deadlines are around the corner and the clock is ticking.

 

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