With the Supreme Court decision on the fate of the Obama health care law expected any day, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bill (H.R. 436) to repeal the law's tax on medical devices and to end restrictions on health savings and flexible spending accounts. The measure passed with bipartisan support on a vote of 270 to 146.
"Over the past 18 months, the House has continuously worked to repeal and dismantle the Obama health care law," said Rep. Thornberry. "Removing the medical device tax and restrictions on health spending accounts will increase health care choices for Americans, lower the high cost of health insurance for small-business owners and patients, and prevent thousands from needlessly losing their jobs," he continued.
On Thursday, the House voted to remove the 2.3 percent excise on certain medical devices. According to a recent study, this tax could result in the loss of more than 43,000 jobs for the medical device industry, which employs more than 400,000 workers. The Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also written that the medical device tax and other taxes in the health care law would generally be passed on to consumers and result in higher medical device prices and higher insurance premiums.
The bill also repeals certain restrictions on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) put in place by the new health care law.
Millions of Americans use HSAs and FSAs to pay for qualified medical expenses on a pre-tax basis. Qualified expenses include costs for which an insurance company will not reimburse such as deductibles, copayments, and non-covered services Qualified expenses did also include over-the-counter (OTC) medications that are purchased without a prescription before the Obama health care law. H.R. 436 repeals this restriction and allows for the purchase of over-the-counter medicine paid for with these pre-tax accounts.
Additionally, H.R. 436 allows employees to cash out up to $500 of their remaining FSA balance at the end of the year and have it taxed as regular wages. Under current law, employees must forfeit any unused balance of their FSA back to their employer.
"Health care reform should expand patients' ability to receive quality care and help reduce the cost, not tax and restrict care like the new health law does," said Thornberry.
On the same day the House passed its latest round of health care repeals, a new national poll indicates that more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed think all or some of the health care law should be overturned by the Supreme Court. Results show that 41 percent of those surveyed think the health care law should be overturned completely, while an additional 27 percent said that they want the court to keep the law but overturn the mandate.