‘Obamacare’ repeal part of GOP’s Senate tax overhaul
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans said Tuesday they are intent on repealing the health care law requirement that Americans get health insurance, targeting the provision as a way to finance deep tax cuts in their far-reaching overhaul.
The surprise renewal of the failed effort to repeal the law’s mandate came a day after President Donald Trump renewed pressure on GOP lawmakers to include the repeal in their tax legislation. It has sharp political stakes for Trump, who lacks a major legislative achievement after nearly 10 months in office.
The move by Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee upended the debate over the tax measure just as it was inching closer to passage following months of fine-tuning and compromise.
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 that 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.
Targeting the mandate in the tax legislation would save an estimated $338 billion over a decade that 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.
It “will cause millions to lose their health care and millions more to lose their premiums,” Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, angrily insisted when the panel reconvened to work on the tax bill and word came of the Republicans’ move on the mandate. Feeling ambushed without advance notice, minority Democrats exploded in anger.
The completed House tax bill, pointed toward a vote in that chamber on Thursday, does not currently include repeal of the health insurance mandate. Trump plans an in-person appeal to House Republicans before the vote.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., followed at right by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., walks past boxes of petitions supporting the Republican tax reform bill that is set for a vote later this week as he arrives for a news conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill in Washington.