House Passes Harmful HSA Measure -- Next Steps
As expected, on April 15, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5719, the “Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act,” which included a provision requiring substantiation of withdrawals from HSAs. The vote on final passage of the bill was largely along party lines: 238-179.
Specific roll call tallies as to how your member of Congress voted can be viewed on www.house.gov. On the homepage there is a section “Find Vote Information”; under that, click on “Roll Call Votes.” See the section for the 110th Congress, 2nd Session (2008), votes #189 and #190.
The debate on House floor was a spirited one that focused on the offending HSA provisions and the underlying larger bill to eliminate the IRS’s authority to utilize private collection agencies to pursue bad debt/past due taxes.
The Republican minority put forth an often-utilized derailment procedural vote on the bill called a “motion to recommit,” which is a vote to send the bill back to the Ways & Means Committee for reconsideration. At the end of the 15 minutes allotted for the vote on this motion, the Republican opposition had the majority of votes. However, the Democratic Leadership allowed the time for voting to be extended until enough votes were rounded up to make the vote a tie – 210 to 210. This is not an entirely rare occurrence -- votes are held open all the time until the majority leadership can “whip” enough votes to secure the result it wants. However, because the vote was a tie, the motion failed.
On motion to recommit, 21 House Democrats voted to send the bill back to Committee (the right vote for NAHU). Three Republicans voted against the motion to recommit. After the motion to recommit failed, the bill was then voted on for final passage. Again, the final vote was 238-179.
Prior to the vote on the House floor, President Bush issued a veto threat over the HSA provisions in H.R. 5719. Given the president’s opposition, and that of many senators like Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) who have strong concerns about the HSA substantiation language and the underlying measure on the IRS private collection program, this legislation is unlikely to see further action in this session of Congress.
However, the HSA threat/“revenue raiser” is now out there, and NAHU and its coalitional partners must continue to be vigilant to ensure that HSAs continue to be viable and consumer-friendly health insurance financing option for more individuals, families and employers.
If you have any questions about topics covered in Washington Update -- or other legislative issues -- please contact NAHU's Government Affairs staff:
John Greene, Vice President of Congressional Affairs,
Peter Stein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs,
Jessica Waltman, Vice President of Policy and State Affairs,
Megan Mamarella, Director of State Affairs,
Jennifer Hillert, Director of State Affairs,
Adam Brackemyre, Director of State Affairs,