Senate putting ACA measure in tax bill
Would repeal mandate for individual coverage
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are intent on scrapping the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that Americans get health insurance, targeting a repeal of the individual mandate to help finance deep tax cuts in their tax overhaul.
The renewal Tuesday of the failed effort to scrap the law’s mandate came a day after President Donald Trump renewed pressure on GOP lawmakers to include the repeal in their tax legislation.
The move by Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee upended the debate over the tax measure just as it was inching closer to passage following months of fine-tuning andcompromise. It turned the debate into an angry partisan referendum on health care and President Barack Obama’s signature law.
Beyond Trump’s prodding, the repeal move also was dictated by the Republicans’ need to find revenue sources for the massive tax-cut bill, which calls for steep reductions in the corporate tax rate and elimination of some popular tax breaks.
“We are optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful. That’s obviously the view of the Senate Finance Committee Republicans,” Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell, R-KY., told reporters.
The Obamacare mandate requires most people to buy health insurance coverage or face a fine. Without being forced to get coverage, fewer people would sign up for Medicaid or buy federally subsidized private insurance. Targeting the mandate in the tax legislation would save an estimated $338 billion over a decade, which could be used to help pay for the deep cuts.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated repealing the requirement that people buy health coverage would mean 4 million additional uninsured people by 2019 and 13 million more by 2027.
Feeling ambushed without advance notice, minority Democrats exploded in anger.
The completed House tax bill, pointed toward a vote in that chamber Thursday, does not currently include repeal of the health insurance mandate. Trump plans an in-person appeal to House Republicans before the vote.
To win over moderate Senate Republicans to the tax legislation, the Senate may take up at the same time a bipartisan compromise to shore up health care subsidies, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., indicated Tuesday. Thune is a member of the Finance Committee.
The Associated Press Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-wis., points to boxes of petitions supporting the Republican tax reform bill as he arrives Tuesday for a news conference on Capitol Hill.