Obamacare repeal and replace is going to turn into a huge tax cut. Those reading the tea leaves would do well to consult two sources as to how and why: the 2015 repeal bill, and the House GOP “Better Way” health care blueprint. Just as in the 2015 bill, which was vetoed by President Obama, Congress aims to repeal all of the 20 major new or higher taxes in Obamacare. It’s important that this repeal be effective at the beginning of 2017, both to get rid of negative Obamacare taxes as soon as possible and to lower the current law’s revenue baseline for tax reform.

. . .

Congressional Republicans are facing their first big decision on taxes under President Trump: Which ones to scrap in the repeal of ObamaCare.

Republicans have in the past sought to erase most of the big tax hikes in the healthcare law, and the chairmen of the tax-writing committees have expressed support for eliminating the taxes in a repeal bill.

“After spending seven years talking about the harm being caused by these taxes, it’s difficult to switch gears now and decide that they’re fine so long as they’re being used to pay for our healthcare bill,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday.

. . .

This week, the U.S. Senate and then the U.S. House of Representatives will consider a budget resolution for FY 2017. It has no purpose whatsoever except to create a vehicle for the repeal of Obamacare.

Congress should pass this budget resolution. It doesn’t commit anyone to any policy choices at this point. All it does is create reconciliation instructions for the chambers to pass Obamacare repeal shortly after President Trump is inaugurated.

This budget resolution has nothing to do with the actual budget, unlike any budget resolution in memory. All it does is create reconciliation instructions for the chambers to pass Obamacare repeal shortly after President Trump is inaugurated.

. . .

Cost overruns are endemic to government health programs, and ObamaCare is turning out to be no different. Not only are its Medicaid expansion costs exploding, skyrocketing premiums are now pushing insurance subsidy costs through the roof.

A new study from the Center for Health and Economy finds that because of the double-digit premium increases across the country, federal spending on ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies will shoot up by nearly $10 billion next year

That’s because the amount of the subsidy is directly tied to the cost of insurance in any given market. The Obama administration treats this as a cardinal virtue of ObamaCare, because the subsidies largely shield eligible enrollees from premium rate shocks. In fact, the administration has argued that higher premiums are a good thing, because they make more people eligible for those subsidies.

. . .

Republicans have said they want to move quickly to craft a replacement plan after successfully repealing Obamacare. But it is not clear how they will pay for a key part of that replacement, tax credits to pay down health insurance.

Republicans have not released a replacement plan for repealing Obamacare. However, some Republicans have introduced legislative text that give a sense of the direction the GOP wants to go.

For instance, Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican who President-elect Trump nominated to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has a plan. Price’s Empowering Patients First Act includes tax credits that are pegged by age instead of income so a person who is younger would get a smaller tax credit than someone older who presumably has higher healthcare costs.

. . .

Donald Trump’s White House and congressional GOP leaders are coalescing around an agenda focused on slashing taxes and repealing Obamacare early next year, a blueprint that could potentially avoid an intraparty clash over infrastructure investment early in Trump’s presidency.

On Wednesday morning, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that the GOP will concentrate on budgetary issues and health care reform in the first nine months of the year. That largely overlaps with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s focus on tax reform and Obamacare repeal and suggests the party will spend much of its energy and momentum on those two issues.

. . .

Next year, taxpayers will fork over nearly $10 billion more to cover double-digit premium hikes for subsidized health insurance under the ACA, according to a study from the Center for Health and Economy. The study estimates that the cost of premium subsidies under the ACA will rise from $32.8 billion currently to $42.6 billion. Under current law, “you get a premium increase, you pour more money in,” said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, founder of the Center for Health and Economy. “The concern is that will feed more premium increases.” If the health care law is repealed next year, it is still yet to be seen what the remaining carriers participating in the ACA exchanges will do in 2018. It is also unclear how supportive Congress will be for subsidies going into a system slated to disappear.

. . .

Tennessee taxpayers, beware. President Obama’s administration is quietly implementing one last massive taxpayer-funded bailout for special interests.

This bailout would prop up the Affordable Care Act only months before the law will likely be repealed.

So which special interests are getting your money? Health-insurance companies. Six years ago, health insurers were some of the Affordable Care Act’s biggest fans. They lobbied for the law because they thought it would be a financial windfall — it literally forces Tennesseans to buy their product.

But instead of finding gushers of cash, they’re drowning in red ink. Health insurers in Tennessee and across the country lost $3.2 billion in 2014 and over $10 billion in 2015. This year’s losses will be even higher.

. . .

If Donald Trump and the Republican Congress have a mandate to do anything, it is to repeal Obamacare. The law is already cratering. Sick enrollees, former president Bill Clinton laments, are seeing “their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half.” Even supportive economists admit the program is in a death spiral.

Repeal won’t be easy. But if Trump sets for Congress the same agenda he laid out during the campaign, he could become America’s greatest health-care reformer, all while cutting taxes more than Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush combined.

. . .

The health care crowd in the Beltway is abuzz this morning with press reports that president-elect Donald Trump has named Georgia Congressman Tom Price, M.D. as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. In a related move, he will name longtime Mike Pence aide Seema Verma to the critical role of administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services. As a result, there’s a raft of interest in how Obamacare “repeal and replace” will now proceed.

It’s important to not get ahead of ourselves here and reflect on what a huge pro-taxpayer accomplishment Obamacare repeal will be. By all accounts, Obamacare will be off the books early in 2017, perhaps before the Patriots win their fifth Super Bowl in NRG Stadium in Houston on the first Sunday in February. Understandably, most of the attention has been focused on the health care aspects of this. But this action will be an enormous tax cut for the American people, with implications for tax reform later in the year.

. . .