The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a spending bill that delays Medicaid payment cuts to disproportionate-share hospitals for five months and repeals three Affordable Care Act taxes.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the legislation and avert a federal government shutdown.
Lawmakers gave a major handout to the industry when it repealed three ACA taxes: a 40% excise tax on employer-provided health plans that exceed certain thresholds; a health insurance tax; and a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices. The tax repeal, which lawmakers chose not to offset, will cost federal taxpayers nearly $400 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
However, major legislation to protect consumers from surprise medical bills and high drug costs was not included. The deal extended funding for several Medicare and Medicaid priorities for five months, which could be another vehicle for action on the issues in 2020. However, many lobbyists are skeptical that lawmakers will come together on bipartisan legislation just six months before a presidential election.
Senators voted to approve the spending bill 71-23. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said he voted against the bill because he opposed repealing the ACA taxes.
"This legislation increases the deficit by $400 billion and lets health insurance companies skip out on taxes they agreed to pay in order to force Obamacare onto Americans. Now, insurance companies are making record profits and they don't want to pay the taxes they agreed to pay," Cassidy said in a statement.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters on Tuesday that Trump is "poised to sign" the legislation, even though Democrats in the House voted to impeach him on Wednesday.