The Senate version touched on many issues besides taxes.
The Senate tax bill must still be reconciled with House legislation that does not include the mandate’s repeal. But that is unlikely to be a major issue, given support in the GOP conference for repealing the mandate.
No Democrats in either chamber voted for the GOP tax bills.
The mandate’s repeal was not part of the original tax-reform measure released by the Senate Finance Committee, and Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) previously said he wanted to keep the divisive health-care issue separate from taxes.
But President Trump, along with Senate conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), made a vocal public push for its inclusion.
The Hill quotes Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) :
Families ought to be able to make decisions about what they want to buy and what works for them — not the government,” said, hailing the accomplishment. I believe if people don’t want to buy the ObamaCare insurance, they shouldn’t have to pay a tax penalty to the IRS.
Read more about the issue in The Hill.
The individual mandate is meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage to help offset the cost of sicker patients. It helps uphold the most popular provision of the law, which requires insurers charge sick and healthy people the same rates. Repealing the requirement that all Americans obtain health insurance while keeping the rest of Obama’s Affordable Care Act intact is expected to cause insurance premiums to rise and lead to millions of people losing coverage, policy experts say.
Reuters quotes Craig Garthwaite, director of the healthcare program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management:
It’s going to take a bunch of healthy people out of the insurance market, Obamacare is going to collapse even more now.
Reuters reports one of the Obamacare stabilization bills, co-authored by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray, would restore billions of dollars in subsidies that health insurers use to reduce out-of-pocket costs for low income Americans.
A second, co-authored by Collins and Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, would create an additional $4.5 billion fund to compensate insurers for covering health care for the sickest patients.
Still, health policy experts said both of those measures would be needed without a mandate repeal and would not make up for expected premium increases and the rise in the numbers of uninsured Americans.
“Neither of these bills would do anything to offset the increase in uninsured resulting from a mandate repeal,” said Larry Levitt, health economist at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The marketplaces would limp along without a mandate but it’s probably not a stable place.”
Without the mandate, health insurance premiums would rise 10 percent in most years over the next decade on the individual market and 13 million people would lose coverage by 2027, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report last month.
Read the story in Reuters
What may happen with the individual mandate ? The New York Times takes a look at the possibilities.
People could opt out of buying policies because they would no longer face a tax penalty and millions could go uninsured. With the Affordable Care Act already weakened by the Trump administration, big drops in enrollment would deal yet another body blow to the law and wreak more havoc in the individual insurance market.
Many consumers would likely to turn to the cheap, short-term policies that already skirt provisions of the law and may not cover pre-existing conditions or basic medical needs. Robert Laszewski, an industry consultant in Alexandria, Va. said
If you get rid of the mandate, you open the floodgates.
These plans — sometimes sold by brokers using tactics rife with fraud — were only supposed to last for three months. But President Trump recently signed an executive order that loosened regulations to allow such coverage to be extended up to a year. The proposed repeal of the individual mandate is part of the Senate Republicans’ tax package. Without a mandate, the cost of coverage could increase by double digits on top of already high premiums as healthy people left the market and sick people needing costly care stayed in it.
Read more in The New York Times