‘Oba­macare’ re­peal part of GOP’s Se­nate tax over­haul

The Oklahoman - - NATION | WORLD - BY MARCY GOR­DON

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.

[AP PHOTO]

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.

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