Debate over health care and taxes moves to Senate
The future of the Affordable Care Act and its associated taxes has moved to the Senate following passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House in April. Traditionally, legislation moves more slowly in the Senate than in the House, which means that any ACA repeal and replacement bill may be weeks if not months away.
Note. At the time this article was prepared, few details have emerged about discussions in the Senate on the ACA’s taxes. Some senators have predicted that the Senate will write its own ACA repeal and replacement bill. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, issued in late May, scored the House-passed AHCA as eventually causing 23 million fewer individuals to be covered, a number that may prompt the Senate to move further away from the House bill. It is also unclear if a Senate bill would repeal all or some of the ACA’s taxes. A Senate bill could also make other changes to the ACA, such as changes to the individual and employer shared responsibility requirements and the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit.
Health care taxes
As approved by the House, the AHCA repeals nearly all of the ACA’s taxes and delays the ones it does not repeal immediately. The House-passed version of the AHCA repeals the net investment income (NII) tax, the excise tax on medical devices, and the health insurance provider fee, among others, retroactively to the start of 2017. Further, the House-passed version of the AHCA delays the ACA’s excise tax on high-dollar health plans.
Whether the Senate will go along with repealing all or some of the ACA’s taxes is unclear. Some GOP members of the Senate Finance Committee had previously called for immediate repeal of the additional Medicare tax. Other Republican senators called for immediate repeal of the medical device excise tax. Our office will keep you posted of developments.
Code Sec. 36B credit
Individuals who obtain health insurance through the ACA Marketplace may qualify for a tax credit to help offset the cost of coverage. The House-passed version of the AHCA also revises the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit. The amount of the credit would vary depending on the taxpayer’s age, among other modifications. Again, it is unclear if the Senate will adopt these changes to the credit or make its own revisions.
An ACA repeal and replacement bill in the Senate also is expected to address, among other things,
- Individual and employer shared responsibility requirements
- Health savings accounts
- Code Sec. 45R small employer health insurance credit
- Branded prescription drug fee
- Medical expense deduction
- Minimum essential health benefits
Other health care bills
Just before Congress’ Memorial Day recess, the House Ways and Means Committee approved several bills related to the House version of the AHCA. One bill would allow individuals who have certain types of COBRA coverage to claim the revised Code Sec. 36B credit. Another bill would disallow advance payments of the credit unless the recipient is a citizen or national of the U.S. or an alien lawfully present in the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL) and the IRS administer different parts of the ACA. In May, HHS announced that changes to the direct enrollment process for the ACA Marketplace. HHS also announced that online enrollment for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) would be through an agent or broker.
Please contact our office if you have any questions about health care and taxes.