By The National Retail Federation
WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation today urged the House to approve Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation expected to come up for a vote this week, and said the issue would be counted as a key vote in its annual voting scorecard.
“It is time now to finally close the book on the Affordable Care Act and start a new chapter in health care,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a letter to House members. “The best course of action is to repeal the ACA and begin a truly bipartisan discussion and debate on the future of our health care system.”
The House plans to vote this week on the American Health Care Act, which uses budget reconciliation procedures to repeal key parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That means the legislation can get through the Senate with only 51 votes rather than the 60 that would normally be required to overcome an expected filibuster, but limits the repeal to provisions of the ACA that have a revenue impact.
Lawmakers who want to do more have been unable to show that they have the 60 votes that would be needed, but French said the pending bill can achieve substantial change and “is the real repeal vote.”
“We have little patience for those who criticize this legislation for not going further to repeal the ACA,” French said. “The budget reconciliation process offers a pathway through the Senate, past an inevitable filibuster. The AHCA is reasonable legislation that will be signed into law.”
Among other provisions, 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 While budget reconciliation does not allow the mandate to be repealed outright, the bill would reduce the penalties for non-compliance to zero.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 2025, 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 entitlement reform.
NRF opposed passage of the ACA and has sought its repeal ever since while working with Congress to mitigate the impact of its most onerous provisions. Rather than lowering costs, the controversial law emphasized mandates that have driven up health insurance expenses for employers.
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. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.