Obamacare's Tax Chickens Come Home to Roost

Obamacare's expense is being passed on to consumers when a medical device tax is scheduled to go into effect on January 1.

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Chris Coburn holds up a medical invention created by CleveX, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007, in Cleveland. This device is a single-stroke device the size of playing cards to do skin biopsies.

Call it politics as usual. Call it hypocrisy. Call it whatever you like—the fact remains that Obamacare's chickens are coming home to roost and some Democrats don't like it one bit.

Before the election the American people got the sugar—the sweeteners that everyone thought were the popular parts of government-run healthcare like the end to the so-called problem of pre-existing condition and the ability for kids out of college to stay on their parent's health insurance plans.

Now that the election is over and a new year is upon us, we're starting to get the ... salt. As the Republicans warned, time and again, Obamacare includes any number of hidden and not so hidden tax increases that are going to hit everyone where it hurts, right in the wallet.

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

This is especially true for sick people, who are very soon going to have to pay a new medical device tax that is scheduled to go in to effect on January 1, 2013. It's a $20 billion tax, the Medical Device Manufacturers Association says, based on a 2.3 percent excise tax assessed on a manufacturer's yearly gross sales—regardless of whether they show a profit. And, like anything else, the cost of the new tax will be passed along to consumers and taxpayers in the form of higher prices.

The medical device industry is one of the few flourishing in America these days. By taxing it, Obamacare creates an incentive to move operations overseas or, as the Democrats like to put it, "exporting jobs."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Taxing sick people is bad politics. Exporting jobs is bad politics. Which is probably why, it should come as no surprise, that a large number of Democrats in the U.S. Senate who voted for Obamacare and its medical device tax in the first place now want Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to put the breaks on its implementation.

In a letter to the Nevada Democrat, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Barbara Mikulsk of Maryland, John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of New York, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Jeanne Sheheen of New Hampshire, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patty Murray of Washington, and Joe Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut—all of whom voted to pass Obamacare—wrote requesting "a delay in the implementation of the medical device excise tax scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013."

They were joined in this effort by Sens.-elect Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who voted for Obamacare while a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

How Reid, who doesn't run the U.S. Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Health and Human Services is supposed to do that the senators who signed the letter don't say. This is political theatrics and rank hypocrisy at its worst. They voted for the tax and now they want to delay its implementation because the folks back home—the 400,000 people in their states who work in the medical device industry—may lose some of their jobs because of it.

The tax shouldn't have been imposed in the first place but Obamacare is very, very expensive. More expensive than advertised in fact. To put it simply, Congress needed the money they expected the tax to generate to pay for the program. Which just goes to show there's no such thing as "free" healthcare.

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