MAN­DATE TAR­GETED GOP re­news its ef­fort to re­peal health care man­date.

Pro­vi­sion seen as way to pay for tax over­haul

The Times-Tribune - - Front Page - BY MARCY GOR­DON

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS WASH­ING­TON — Se­nate Repub­li­cans said Tues­day they are in­tent on re­peal­ing the Obama health care law re­quire­ment that Amer­i­cans get health in­sur­ance, tar­get­ing the pro­vi­sion as a way to pay for GOP leg­is­la­tion cut­ting cor­po­rate taxes and in­di­vid­ual rates.

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 over­haul leg­is­la­tion.

The move by Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee also was dic­tated by the Repub­li­cans’ need to find rev­enue sources for the mas­sive tax-cut bill that calls for steep re­duc­tions and elim­i­na­tion of some pop­u­lar tax breaks.

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.

“We are op­ti­mistic that in­sert­ing the in­di­vid­ual man­date re­peal would be help­ful; that’s ob­vi­ously the view of the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee Repub­li­cans,” Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., told re­porters.

With­out be­ing forced to get cov­er­age, fewer peo­ple would sign up for Med­i­caid or buy fed­er­ally sub­si­dized pri­vate in­sur­ance.

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.

The House bill, which is ex­pected to pass Thurs­day, does not cur­rently in­clude re­peal of the man­date, which re­quires most peo­ple to buy in­sur­ance cov­er­age or face a fine.

Repub­li­can Sens. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky and Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas had pushed for the re­peal in the tax bill, just months af­ter GOP ef­forts to dis­man­tle the 2010 health care law had col­lapsed in the Se­nate.

“Re­peal­ing the man­date pays for more tax cuts for work­ing fam­i­lies and pro­tects them from be­ing fined by the IRS for not be­ing able to af­ford in­sur­ance that Oba­macare made un­af­ford­able in the first place,” Cot­ton said in a state­ment.

Mi­nor­ity Democrats on the Fi­nance panel ex­ploded with anger when word came of the Repub­li­cans’ move.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. Ron Wy­den, D-Ore., left, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, crit­i­cizes the Repub­li­can tax re­form plan while Chair­man Or­rin Hatch, R-Utah, cen­ter, and Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, R-Iowa, far right, lis­ten to his open­ing state­ment as the panel be­gins work over­haul­ing the na­tion’s tax code Mon­day.

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