Health Overhaul Skirmishes Simmer Over Government Fliers, Drug Benefits
Republicans are complaining that, while the IRS sent out 4 million fliers to publicize $40 billion in tax credits for small businesses, the agency did not make a similar effort to inform tanning salons and their customers about a new 10 percent tax on their services, Politico reports. "Every tanning salon or other business that offers separately-priced tanning services will be forced to administer this new tax and every consumer receiving services subject to this new tax will be required to pay it, regardless of their income levels or other characteristics," Rep. David Camp, R-Mich., protested in a letter last week. "The letter underscores the deep contention that's still circulating on Capitol Hill over the reform law," as Republicans continue to criticize Democrats for using tax dollars to run PR campaigns of the overhaul. GOP lawmakers made similar complaints when the administration provided information about Medicare changes to seniors (Haberkorn, 6/11).
Another health overhaul skirmish is shaping up between unions and companies considering dropping retiree prescription drug benefits, The Wall Street Journal reports. Navistar International, a truck maker, "is trying to reduce its costs for retiree benefits and trim its exposure to additional federal taxes by shifting coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees' prescriptions from the company's insurance to the Medicare Part D program beginning July 1. The United Auto Workers union is opposing the shift, arguing that it will result in higher premiums and inferior coverage for retirees." Experts expect other companies to follow suit "before federal income taxes on government subsidies for company-sponsored prescription coverage take effect in 2013" (Tita, 6/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.