Congress Upsets Obamacare Math, Delays Taxes Needed to Pay for Generous New Benefits

Congress is poised to take the first major bites out of Obamacare’s finances this week when it postpones a series of taxes intended to pay for the hefty overhaul — defying President Obama’s pleas to leave his signature domestic achievement alone.

The Affordable Care Act’s excise tax on medical devices would be canceled for the next two years, and another tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health plans, slated to take effect in 2018, will be postponed for two years under the terms of a deal agreed to by top Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. Negotiations also rolled back a tax on health insurers for one year.

Added up, the delays will save taxpayers an estimated $36 billion. But their real significance is symbolic: They mark the biggest changes yet to the economics of Mr. Obama’s health law, which had counted on those taxes to pay for all of the new benefits.

Still, the White House considered itself lucky, saying that given Republicans’ efforts to nix the law entirely, postponing a few tax hikes was a victory for Mr. Obama.