KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

House Panel Nixes Two Health Law Provisions

The House Ways and Means Committee voted to eliminate a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices and to end a ban on the use of pretax flexible spending accounts to buy nonprescription medicines. These measures, though, are not expected to advance in the Senate even if they pass the full House.

Reuters: U.S. House Panel Backs Medical Device Tax Repeal
A Republican-controlled congressional panel voted on Thursday to repeal a tax on medical devices, a key revenue provision in President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare reform law, but the measure was not expected to become law. Approval in the House, which is dominated by Republicans, was viewed as probable, possibly as soon as next week. But the measure faced an uphill climb in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where parallel legislation lacks bipartisan sponsors (Temple-West, 5/31).

Bloomberg: Republicans Attempt To Repeal Taxes For U.S. Health Law
Efforts to repeal taxes imposed by President Barack Obama’s health-care law advanced in Congress as Republicans sought to save medical-device makers $29 billion in levies and consumers $4 billion in out-of-pocket drug costs. The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee voted 23-11 to eliminate a 2.3 percent tax on hip implants, pacemakers and other devices sold to hospitals; and voted 24-9 to end a ban on the use of pretax flexible spending accounts to buy nonprescription medicines such as Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol (Edney, 5/31).

CQ HealthBeat: House Panel Backs Repeal Of Medical-Device Tax, Changes To Account Rules
Republican-backed efforts to scrap two of the 2010 health care overhaul law's tax-related provisions advanced in the House on Thursday. The Ways and Means Committee approved, 23-11, legislation that would repeal the law's tax on medical devices. The panel also voted, 24-9, to back a bill that would do away with the overhaul's restrictions on using tax-preferred accounts to pay for over-the-counter drugs. Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that House Republicans plan to make repeal of the law's 2.3 percent tax on medical devices a centerpiece of their economic program and their attack on President Obama’s management of the economy. The bill is expected to receive floor votes next week (Khatami and Phenicie, 5/31).

Modern Healthcare: House Panel OKs Device-Tax Repeal, Bills To Expand HSA Use
A House panel advanced measures to roll back two unpopular provisions of the 2010 healthcare overhaul and also approved two other bills that aim to expand the use of health savings accounts. The Ways and Means Committee voted 23-11 to repeal the 2.3% excise tax set to go into effect Jan. 1 on medical devices that are generally available for purchase only by healthcare providers. The measure has garnered some bipartisan support, including two Democrats voting for it in the committee and 11 Democrats among its 239 co-sponsors (Daly, 5/31).

Minnesota Public Radio: Medical Device Tax Repeal Advances In The U.S. House
A committee hearing over legislation introduced by 3rd District Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen to repeal a tax on medical devices turned heated Thursday as Republicans and Democrats took turns re-litigating the fight over the 2010 health care law. While many Democrats on the panel said they were uncomfortable with the tax and would be happy to see it reduced or eliminated, in the end only Democratic Reps. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Shelley Berkley of Nevada joined all of the Republicans present to vote 23-11 in favor of eliminating the tax (Neely, 5/31).

In other news from Capitol Hill -

The Associated Press: House Passes Veterans Funding Bill
The Republican-controlled House approved legislation Thursday to boost health care spending for veterans and provide more money to compensate record numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans claiming service-related disabilities as they return home. The 407-12 vote reflected the traditional bipartisan support for veterans in Congress and efforts by Republicans to exempt veterans' programs from cuts felt by other domestic programs (Taylor, 6/1).

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