The National Retail Federation (NRF) called on the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), saying lawmakers should take advantage of a “real opportunity” rather than continue to debate details of the bill and risk failing to obtain sufficient votes a second time.
“We continue to believe that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is reasonable legislation that will be signed into law,” said NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French in a letter to House members. “This is the real repeal vote.
“Budget reconciliation procedures offer real opportunity but also present profound challenges,” French wrote. “The resulting legislation might not be anyone’s ideal, but it will advance in law the cause of bringing real relief from the ACA.”
Like its predecessor, a revised version of the AHCA currently waiting for a vote would use budget reconciliation procedures to repeal key parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That means the legislation could be passed by the Senate with only 51 votes rather than the 60 normally required to overcome an expected filibuster, but also limits the repeal to provisions of the ACA that have a revenue impact. NRF nonetheless believes that the bill would achieve substantial change.
An earlier version of the bill was scheduled for a vote in March, but action was delayed because conservative House members wanted more complete repeal of the ACA.
Among other actions supported by NRF, the legislation would effectively repeal the ACA’s employer mandate that businesses provide health insurance to full-time workers. While budget reconciliation does not allow the mandate to be repealed outright, the bill would reduce the penalties for non-compliance to zero.
The legislation would also delay the so-called Cadillac Tax on high-value health plans until 2026, and would repeal its health insurance tax, medical device tax and pharmaceutical tax permanently. It would also increase flexibility for health savings accounts and would take a substantial first step toward Medicaid reform.
NRF opposed passage of Obamacare and has sought its repeal, while working with Congress to mitigate the impact of its most onerous provisions. Rather than lowering costs, the controversial law emphasizes mandates that have driven up health insurance expenses for both employers and employees.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.