In Need of Bipartisan Wins, Congress Should Work Together to Prevent Burdensome Health Care Increases

Across the political spectrum, ideas about what the future of health care should look like vary dramatically. But one thing that should unite members of Congress—even those from the furthest ideological corners—is the belief that Americans shouldn’t be subjected to unfair health care taxes that hurt families.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what could happen to tens of millions of Americans if Congress doesn’t act in time.

Obamacare (i.e., the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) has been the subject of bipartisan bickering since its enactment, but there is one aspect of the law that has actually brought lawmakers from both sides of the aisle together. Republicans and Democrats alike have voted to delay some of the law’s most harmful aspects: the health insurance tax (HIT), the medical device tax, and the so-called “Cadillac” tax.

These taxes were not designed to last due to their excessive burdens, high costs and complexity. The HIT imposes a fee on insurance providers and, in turn, raises costs—in some instances dramatically—for insurance beneficiaries who work for small businesses, buy individual plans through a broker, have retiree Medicare Advantage plans, and more.

This onerous increase in coverage costs is why Congress came together last year, at the urging of the National Association of Manufacturers and others, to impose a moratorium, delaying the implementation of this tax and premium hike until 2020.

According to recent analysis by Oliver Wyman, that delay in the HIT’s implementation helped keep Medicare Advantage premiums 55 percent lower this year than what they would have been had the HIT been imposed.

That’s a positive step forward, but a one-year delay is not enough. Congress needs to come together once again to give Americans certainty that their health insurance premiums will not be affected by this burdensome tax. Congress should act now to delay the HIT for 2020 and beyond.

Just recently, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Health Insurance Tax Relief Act (S. 172), which would grant an additional two-year delay to the HIT’s implementation and provide more certainty in the health insurance market. Manufacturers appreciate their action on this important issue and urge more Senators to sign on and support this commonsense bill that impacts manufacturing families.

Based on another study by Oliver Wyman, this one analyzing the cost of letting the HIT moratorium expire after the end of 2019, as is currently scheduled, next year the average family employed by a small business could see their premium increase $479, costing them $5,824 over the next 10 years.

The cost of inaction is too great—for businesses, for workers, and for Americans insured through the individual market.

The House of Representatives should introduce companion legislation to join in lockstep with the Senate and protect Americans’ health care costs from rising.

Robyn Boerstling

Robyn Boerstling is the Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

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