Se­nate putting ACA mea­sure in tax bill

Would re­peal man­date for in­di­vid­ual cov­er­age

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - MORNING BRIEFING - By Marcy Gor­don The Associated Press

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.

J. Scott Applewhite

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.

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