Devices & Diagnostics

Here are options beyond an Obamacare delay or government shutdown

In case you missed the weekend’s political posturing, the U.S. Senate will Monday likely reject a new House bill passed on Saturday that ties the passage of a new federal budget with one-year delay of Obamacare healthcare reform and the elimination of the medical device excise tax.

In case you missed the weekend’s political posturing, the U.S. Senate will Monday likely reject a new House bill passed on Saturday that ties the passage of a new federal budget with one-year delay of Obamacare healthcare reform and the elimination of the medical device excise tax. If that happens, House Republicans – who hoped to leverage the fear of a government shutdown to stop the Accountable Care Act – will either fold or send the government into shutdown mode.

There are a few scenarios beyond that, though. Most of them would have a major impact on the medical industry (even if they would take awhile to develop). Here’s some potential solutions beyond the two extremes of delaying Obamacare or pushing the country beyond the financial brink.

Use the medical device tax as a bargaining chip. One scenario regularly floated is that the House Republicans would let Obamacare move forward in exchange for scuttling the medical device tax.  Hard-core anti-medical-device-tax supporters turned up the efforts over the weekend, urging supporters to e-mail members of Congress (AdvaMed, the device company trade group, launched an ad campaign late last week).

presented by

It’s a bizarre turn for the device tax, which has lots of critics on both sides of the aisle but has seen little but symbolic progress. Also, keep in mind the president has categorically rejected any medical device tax repeal.

The government jumps on the Obamacare train. Scenario two: Send a bill back to the Senate that requires Congressional members and their staffs to buy buy insurance on the new health insurance exchanges, without any government subsidies to offset the cost. “The concern is palpable,” Wisconsin GOP Representative Reid Ribble told The New York Times. “It will affect everybody, their staff, their budgets. But the American people feel we’re getting an unfair break.”

But it’s deceptive to say that Congressional staff members are getting an extra benefit. In essence, these government workers are being treated much like other large employers: they’ll receive employer contributions to cover part of their premium.

Believe the Democrats when they say this. Even though they won’t compromise Obamacare and the medical devices tax as part of the federal budget, Democrats have repeatedly said they would consider changes in both the device tax and Obamacare overall after the government shutdown crisis is averted. “I’m willing to look at that, but not with a gun to my head, not with the prospect of shutting down government,” Politico quote Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin as saying.

Does this sound like an atmosphere of trust?

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user DonkeyHotey]