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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Henry J. Aaron
A tax on everything from X-ray machines to oxygen tanks took effect at the beginning of this year — one of about 20 taxes and fees included in President Obama's health care law — and has emerged as the central battleground in the fight by the law's opponents to repeal parts of the president's overhaul.
States have scant precedent to rely on as they shape the twin pillars of President Obama's health care law, an uncertainty that has resulted in what one Iowa official described as 50 discrete "laboratories."
"Premium support" is at the heart of GOP efforts to modernize Medicare before it evaporates, as soon as 2020. Democrats have mutilated this excellent idea, which also bears a dreadful name. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and his colleagues should relaunch this concept, pronto.
As the House begins debate this week on the Republicans' budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, provisions that call for massive cuts to Medicare and Medicare will dominate - a precursor to the battles over entitlement spending expected to define the 2012 elections.
But Henry J. Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the medical-device tax repeal vote hardly amounts to a referendum on overall support for the health care law.
Rather, he said, the vote was symbolic of "the power of lobbyists to sway members of Congress regarding a small tax on products that people care about a great deal."