Senate Democrats who fret over the distributional effects of tax cuts should thank their GOP colleagues for giving them the chance this week to vote on repealing one of the most regressive taxes: the Obamacare tax on the uninsured.

This tax disproportionately falls on those with incomes less than $50,000, while exempting many households earning six-figure salaries. Many who qualify for subsidies will have to choose between paying the tax and buying policies that offer shabby coverage with onerous deductibles that could stick them with big medical bills.

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Though much of the discussion during Alex Azar’s confirmation hearing for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services centered on his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, a Senate panel also grilled Azar on payment reforms, the Affordable Care Act and electronic health records.

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  • 65 percent of GOP respondents disapprove of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have health insurance, from 51 percent in September.
  • Disapproval of the mandate increased from 49 percent to 54 percent among all respondents, largely because of sentiment among GOP voters.

Congress is headed for a showdown on whether to insert several pressing health measures in year-end bills, reviving partisan fights that threaten to derail Republicans’ goal to close out the year with a raft of legislative successes.

The looming health-care issues include funding for a children’s health program, the possible delay of certain taxes by the Affordable Care Act and the fate of a bipartisan plan to bolster fragile insurance markets.

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Nearly 2.8 million people signed up for ObamaCare plans during the first 25 days of open enrollment, but the rate of sign-ups has slowed, the Trump administration announced.

The fourth week resulted in just over 504,000 people selecting plans, compared with just under 800,000 people during the third week.

That number was also down from the 876,788 who signed up during week two, and the 601,462 who signed up during the first week of open enrollment.

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Legislation from the duo at the helm of the Senate health panel would do little to improve the number of uninsured individuals if the mandate created by the 2010 health law is repealed, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

A repeal of the mandate — which requires individuals to purchase insurance or pay a yearly fine — is currently included in the GOP bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

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On today’s show Josiah will be talking with Grace Marie Turner who is the President of The Galen Institute. She is an expert on public policy related to healthcare. She is an advocate for free market ideas to drive change in the healthcare system and facilitates think tanks across the country.

During this episode you’ll hear:

  • An inside look on the last year of healthcare debate and where she feels we are going moving into 2018.
  • Free market ideas she feels can realistically be legislated in the current political environment.
  • Her opinions on how our current President will use the regulatory agencies in the future to effect reforms, which either congress passes or does not pass.
  • The most important thing for congress to get right about healthcare in the next set of reforms.
  • What she believes the next 5-10 years of health policy look like.

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The Senate this week is expected to vote on a tax bill that includes a controversial provision to repeal Obamacare’s tax penalty on the uninsured. Democrats and some conservative policy analysts fret that if Congress scuttles the so-called individual mandate, insurance premiums will rise.

The reverse may be closer to the truth: Premiums for Obamacare policies next year will be so high that millions will be exempt from the tax penalty whether Congress repeals it or not. Even the skimpiest coverage now costs so much that many uninsured people with six-figure incomes will be exempt.

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Public sentiment over Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires everyone to buy insurance, is divided, a new poll finds.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents in a poll from the left-leaning think tank Urban Institute want the mandate repealed, while another 29.6 percent think it should be kept. About 30 percent of respondents were undecided about its fate.

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she supports GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, the Alaska Republican wrote in an op-ed for a local newspaper Tuesday.

“I have always supported the freedom to choose,” Murkowski wrote in her op-ed for the Daily News-Miner, an Alaska newspaper. “I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy, in order to avoid being taxed.”

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