The Affordable Care Act was bad legislation, in part because it depended on plenty of imaginary budget savings.
“This is a coverage bill, not a cost reduction bill,” top Senate staffer David Bowen said to a K Street audience after the bill passed. Bowen said that Senate Democrats had decided to do the same thing Massachusetts had done: “do coverage first, knowing that that would bring on a cost battle second.”
But since the passage of Obamacare, the cost-controls and offsets have one-by-one been stripped out.
First, Democrats killed the ill-conceived long-term-care-insurance measure, known as the CLASS Act. This provision, which provided government insurance for long-term care, was, amazingly, booked as reducing the deficit. This was ridiculous, and after the bill passed, Democrats realized it was a disaster, and the administration has suspended its implementation. [NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Democrats had repealed the provision.]
Another reason the bill was supposed to “reduce the deficit” was an unusually onerous tax hike on small businesses. The provision, known as the “1099 provision” would have forced small businesses to file all sorts of new paperwork for all sorts of transactions (sell a digital camera, file a 1099), in the hope of picking up transactions that are taxable. Congress also repealed that provision.
And now the health-care-industry lobbies that supported this subsidy-and-mandate-laden bill are lobbying to kill the cost-controls that offset the costs of its subsidies. All sorts of providers are lobbying to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board. And the medical-device industry has convinced two Democratic Obamacare-backing Senators to try to kill the medical device tax:
Minnesota’s two senators sought Monday to delay a tax on medical devices that was expected to add $28 billion over the next decade to help pay for health care reform. Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken pointed to thousands of high-paying jobs that device companies support in Minnesota, headquarters to such giant devicemakers as Medtronic and St. Jude Medical. The industry has painted the tax as a job killer that would hurt innovation. “The delay would give us the opportunity to repeal or reduce that tax,” said Klobuchar, co-author of a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seeking the delay. Repeal is the ultimate goal of the letter’s 18 signers, including Klobuchar, Franken and all the heavy hitters in the Senate Democratic leadership.