One of the central questions in the battle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that Republicans have been grappling with since the election is what to do with the law’s taxes. Republicans have spent six years railing against those taxes, which could provide crucial revenue to finance a replacement plan.
“My view is this: After spending seven years talking about the harm being caused by these taxes, it’s difficult to switch gears now and decide that they’re fine so long as they’re being used to pay for our healthcare bill,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Wednesday during an event at the Chamber of Commerce, according to the Hill. “All of the Obamacare taxes need to go as part of the repeal process.”
Republicans have been deeply divided over the issue in recent weeks, and ACA taxes were a key point of discussion during the party’s retreat last week in Philadelphia. No decisions had been made by the end of last week.
However, as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch’s announcement is notable and may indicate a shift occurring within the Republican Party to go forward with a plan to eradicate the taxes right away.
“We need to definitively answer the question about what to do with the ObamaCare taxes,” Hatch said, as quoted by The Hill. “Some have argued that we should keep all or some of them in place and use them to pay for our eventual replacement package.”
Health care experts have warned that scrapping the taxes immediately could significantly restrict any GOP efforts to replace the ACA down the line. Without the revenue from those taxes, Republicans eventually would have to raise taxes on their own unless, as Hatch’s announcement may be signaling, they don’t plan to roll out a significant replacement package at all.
Republicans have struggled to find any consensus on a replacement for the ACA. Earlier this month Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) unveiled their own plan, but it’s been widely rebuked by conservatives because it kept ACA taxes in place to pay for the replacement.
Republicans have argued they must wait until Trump’s Health and Human Services nominee, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), is in place before they can settle on a game plan for repealing and replacing the health care law, but Hatch’s comments may indicate the direction the GOP is leaning toward.