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Senate approves bill to kill health reform law 'Cadillac' tax

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Key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the excise tax on costly health care plans, would be repealed under legislation passed by the Senate Thursday night.

The slew of the health care reform law-related provisions in the broader budget reconciliation bill, H.R. 3762, that the Senate passed on a near party-line 52-47 vote include:

• Repeal of the 40% excise tax, set to begin in 2018, on the portion of group health care plan premiums that exceed $10,200 for single coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. That provision was added, on a 90-10 vote, to the broader bill, and replaces an earlier version that would have only ended the tax through 2025. The Senate vote “is another strong bipartisan recognition that this tax must be repealed to preserve employer-sponsored health coverage,” James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council in Washington, said in a statement.

• Elimination of the $2,000-per-employee penalty employers face if they do not offer coverage to at least 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and to 95% in 2016 and succeeding years.

• Elimination of the $3,000 penalty for each employee who is eligible for a federal premium subsidy and uses it to purchase coverage in a public health insurance exchange. That penalty is triggered if the portion of the premium an employer charges for single coverage exceeds 9.5% of an employee's household income and the employee is eligible for and uses a federal premium subsidy to purchase coverage in a public exchange.

• Elimination of the 2.3% federal excise tax imposed on manufacturers of medical devices.

These provisions were added by the Senate to the budget reconciliation bill the House of Representatives passed in October.

The House is expected to accept the Senate measure, eliminating the need for a congressional conference committee to iron out the differences.

However, the White House earlier this week said President Barack Obama will veto the measure.

With the Senate narrowly passing the legislation, there is little expectation that that are enough votes to overturn a presidential veto.

However, observers say it is likely that at least some of the health care law repeal provisions could be included in so-called “must pass” legislation to extend expiring tax code provisions.

Such a bill could emerge next week, observers say.