Republicans are looking under every seat cushion to finance tax cuts and the political bribes that Members of Congress are demanding for their votes. One surprising potential “pay for,” believe it or not, would be repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

The IRS administers the mandate, which ObamaCare euphemistically dubbed an “individual responsibility payment.” But Chief Justice John Roberts called it a tax to declare it constitutional, so a policy and fiscal nexus exists.

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Although a median-income US family of four with employer-based health insurance saw its gross annual income increase from $76,000 in 1999 to $99,000 in 2009 (in current dollars), this gain was largely offset by increased spending to pay for health care. Monthly spending increases occurred in the family’s health insurance premiums (from $490 to $1,115), out-of-pocket health spending (from $135 to $235), and taxes devoted to health care (from $345 to $440). After accounting for price increases in other goods and services, the family had $95 more in monthly income to devote to nonhealth spending in 2009 than in 1999. By contrast, had the rate of health care cost growth not exceeded general inflation, the family would have had $545 more per month instead of $95—a difference of nearly $5,400 per year. Even the $95 gain was artificial, because tax collections in 2009 were insufficient to cover actual increases in federal health spending. As a result, we argue, the burdens imposed on all payers by steadily rising health care spending can no longer be ignored.

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The Maryland Health Care Commission has launched a new online pricing tool that allows state residents to compare the costs of several common procedures.

The “Wear the Cost” initiative provides prices from hospitals in the state for hip replacements, knee replacements, hysterectomies and vaginal births. The calculations are based on commercial insurer data from 2014 and 2015. Development support on the project was provided by the Altarum Institute.

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The Trump administration has prepared an executive order that would unravel Obamacare’s individual mandate, but has put it on hold to see whether it might be included in the Republican tax bill instead, a GOP senator told the Washington Examiner.

According to the senator, an executive order is sitting with the Office of Management and Budget waiting for approval. President Trump decided to delay the executive order after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pushed for the inclusion of the individual mandate repeal in the tax bill, and has been supportive of its inclusion in statements he has made on Twitter.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was confident the House would pass the GOP’s tax reform legislation before its self-imposed Thanksgiving deadline, adding a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate could still be included in the final version of the proposal.

“Yes, we are on track for moving this through the House before Thanksgiving, that’s our plan,” Ryan told “Fox News Sunday” in an interview taped Friday. “We expect our friends in the Senate to be about a week behind us.”

Ryan said doing away with the controversial individual mandate measure in the Affordable Care Act was still on the negotiation table among House Republicans.

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It is generally assumed that the biggest obstacle to a national health plan like Medicare for All will be the large tax increase needed to pay for it. But new polling shows another challenge: Almost half of the American people don’t know that they would have to change their current health insurance arrangements if there was a single-payer plan.

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The CMS has finalized a proposed rule to exempt more small providers from complying with MACRA. It also reversed course on plans to give providers a pass on gauging whether they are cutting costs under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, or MIPS.

Physician practices with less than $90,000 in Medicare revenue or fewer than 200 unique Medicare patients per year would be exempted under the rule finalized Tuesday.

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The Affordable Care Act is failing. Focused on shrinking the uninsured population, the law expanded government insurance programs and imposed considerable federal authority over U.S. health care via new mandates, regulations, and taxes. The harmful impacts of this ill-conceived approach should now be clear: Insurance premiums have skyrocketed even as deductibles rose; consumer choice on the state insurance marketplace has rapidly vanished; and for those with ACA coverage, doctor and hospital choices have narrowed dramatically. Meanwhile, consolidation across the health care sector has accelerated at a record pace, portending further harm to consumers, including higher costs in medical care.

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The upside of the failure of the Senate to pass any semblance of repealing and reforming the ACA is that it highlights three structural impediments to achieving not only health care insurance reform, but most of the Trump agenda as well: 1) Congress must realign its interests with voters’ interests; 2) The Senate must eliminate the Senate’s incumbent protection racket, where deliberation on legislation is avoided to spare Senators—of both parties—tough votes; 3) Conservatives must learn how to sell their ideas.

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The premiums for 2018 Marketplace plans were recently released to give consumers a chance to look at their plan options before open enrollment begins on November 1. Premiums are rising significantly in many counties across the country, in part due to the decision of the Trump Administration to cease payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions. Insurer participation also declined in many areas, leaving more counties with only one insurer, which likely contributed to the high rate of premium growth.

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