Mr. Summers offers various caveats along with his prediction of a mass-casualty legislative event. But he largely accepts the Congressional Budget Office’s guess that 13 million more people will choose not to enroll in government health plans if insurance is no longer required (Summers rounds the guess down to 10 million), and he basically credits his former colleague Kate Baicker’s research suggesting people are more likely to die if they are not enrolled in a health insurance plan.

Mr. Summers is not alone among ObamaCare defenders in wanting to persuade people that the number of people covered by government insurance is the true measure of health. But the vast expansion of such coverage engineered by his old boss doesn’t seem to have made Americans healthier.

. . .

The House and Senate recently passed tax reform bills because they successfully made the case that reform is a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity that is long overdue. It’s a compelling argument. When the last tax reform bill passed in 1986 the Internet was in its infancy and cell phones were the size of a briefcase. The world has changed, the argument goes, but our tax code has not.

What’s curious, however, is that the largest deduction in the tax code – the exclusion from income tax of employer-sponsored insurance, which dates back to the 1940s – is untouched by the reform bills. This omission is an enormous missed opportunity for American consumers and both political parties.

. . .

A top House Republican said Democrats need to make concessions that make them “wince” in order to get a vote on two Obamacare stabilization bills.

The comments from Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., Monday comes less than a week after the two bills looked headed for passage in the Senate after a deal to get Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to support tax reform. But while President Trump and Senate GOP leadership gave support for the bills, such a commitment in the House has been lacking.

. . .

  • 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.

. . .

The Senate Finance Committee announced today that it would add to the Senate tax reform bill a zeroing out of Obamacare’s individual mandate surtax, in essence repealing the mandate. This is a big tax cut aimed squarely at America’s middle class.

The mandate is a tax which punishes those who can least afford it

Obamacare’s individual mandate is enforced by the collection of a surtax on income. Failure to purchase Obamacare insurance triggers the surtax.

In 2017, the surtax is equal to the greater of:

  • 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income, or
  • the dollar penalty

The dollar penalty is $695 for every adult in the household, plus $347.50 for every child in the household, with a household maximum of $2085.

. . .

Senate Republicans have added the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate to the latest version of their tax bill, with several key swing votes saying they’re open to the idea.

Late on Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah, released a new bill that would eliminate the mandate’s fines beginning in 2019. The addition was discussed at a closed-door party lunch meeting earlier in the day, and several Republican senators said no one spoke out publicly against repealing the mandate.

. . .

Last night, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) announced that the Senate Republican tax reform bill would include a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. Why is this a big deal? It all goes back to the profound impact of Congress’ official fiscal scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office.

The single most important reason that Republicans failed to replace Obamacare in 2017 is because of estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that 22 million fewer people would have health insurance in 2026 under the GOP bills.

. . .

The tax-reform bill that Senate Republicans are releasing Thursday does not repeal ObamaCare’s individual insurance mandate, though the provision could be added down the line, GOP senators said.

Senators leaving a briefing about the legislation said repealing the mandate is not in the initial text of the legislation, but cautioned that the issue is still under discussion.

. . .

The Senate GOP tax bill will retain a key deduction for qualified medical expenses that was excluded from the House version, according to a Republican senator on the Senate Finance Committee.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told reporters that the deduction will remain in the initial version of legislation the Senate is set to unveil today. “I think there’s always a sense that it’s a good thing to continue,” Cassidy said.
. . .