Thursday, June 26, 2014

Senate Republican Caucus Seeks Affordable Care Act Amendments in State Budget

Recognizing the harm being inflicted on the Massachusetts economy due to the 2010 enactment of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Senate Republican Caucus secured two amendments to the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2015 state budget that would study the effects of a medical device tax on the state’s economy and compel a formal request for a permanent waiver to certain provisions of the ACA.  With the ongoing negotiations between the members of the conference committee charged with reconciling the House and Senate’s versions of the spending bill, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), and Senate Minority Whip Donald Humason (R-Westfield) have sent the members of the committee a letter expressing a need to include the amendments in the final version of the bill.

Upon passage of the ACA in 2010, medical device manufacturers became subjected to a tax that has inflicted on this important group of employers.  In an effort to support the industry, bolster the economy, and protect jobs in the state, Senate Republicans secured an amendment that would create a commission to study the short and long term effects of the medical device tax on the Massachusetts economy and its employers.

“The medical device tax contained in the ACA has significant negative impacts on this critical group of employers in our Commonwealth, and thus for our state’s economy as well,” wrote Senate Republicans to the members of the conference committee.  “Accordingly, the Senate embraced our amendment to create a commission to study those impacts and inform a course of action to address them.”

Widely lauded as the model for the federal Affordable Care Act, the 2006 Massachusetts Health Care reform law has achieved the overall goals of the ACA by providing healthcare to over 97% of the Commonwealth’s residents; however, due to restrictions on risk rating factors, and the requirement of a new health care exchange website have undermined the Massachusetts health care law.

“Unfortunately, the Massachusetts law touted repeatedly as the prototype for the federal ACA is now being undermined by its federal successor,” wrote the caucus.  “Our amendment now before you would require the administration to request a permanent waiver from two important elements of the ACA: the requirement to use only 4 risk rating factors as opposed to the 9 currently used in Massachusetts, and the requirement to create a new exchange website, even though the Commonwealth’s exchange has complied with the ACA’s goal of health care coverage.”