House Democrats, forced by a budget deadline to divert a little energy from impeachment to their primary legislative function, have reluctantly negotiated a spending agreement with congressional Republicans and the White House. The bill, which must be passed by the Senate and signed by the president before federal funding runs out this weekend, contains some good news for Americans facing ever-increasing medical expenses. It permanently repeals three looming Obamacare taxes: the medical device tax, the tax on premium (Cadillac) health plans, and the health insurance tax (HIT). All three were unpopular and would have increased health-care costs.
The 2.3-percent tax on medical devices, which was due to go into effect this January, has long been promoted by Obamacare advocates as a mere corporate tax. Like all taxes levied on corporations, however, it would have inevitably been passed on to health-care consumers. Among the patients who would have been adversely affected by this stealth excise tax are the many Americans who need crucial medical devices such as pacemakers, stents, artificial joints, and insulin pumps. Countless patients would also have been hit by higher prices at hospitals and stand-alone facilities to which they must go to avail themselves of MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, and other tests involving expensive technology.
The medical device tax would also have killed thousands of jobs and stifled innovation.