- 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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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panel would do little to improve the number of uninsured individuals if the mandate created by the 2010 health law is repealed, according to the Congressional Budget Office.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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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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The feature of Obamacare that is least liked by the public is the individual mandate. Under current law, people are required to have health insurance. If they don’t, they can be fined. For example, if you are not insured by an employer plan or a government program (such a Medicaid) you are legally required to buy insurance in the individual market. The type of insurance that is sold there is highly regulated and it probably costs twice as much as it should – or more.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran articles last Friday on how unattractive these policies are in some parts of the country. In Charlottesville, Virginia, for example, a family of four can pay $30,000 a year for coverage with a $14,400 deductible. That’s more than the family pays for its mortgage for insurance coverage that may not pay a single medical bill.
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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.
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Senate Republicans have included a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in the latest version of their tax reform bill. Some Democrats have reacted by claiming that the repeal of the mandate is actually a tax increase, and that mandate repeal “kicks” people off coverage they didn’t want to buy. Welcome to 2017.
The “mandate repeal is a tax hike” argument seems ludicrous on its face. Why would repealing a tax—the fine that you pay if you find Obamacare’s coverage unaffordable—represent a tax increase?
The “tax hike” talking point comes from two tables supplied today by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional agency that estimates the fiscal impact of tax legislation. (Its work is often mistakenly credited to the Congressional Budget Office, which also relies on JCT work for tax policy.)
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Republicans are right to want to repeal the mandate that fines Americans who don’t buy health insurance. Their dual motive is to repeal the most loathed part of the Affordable Care Act as well as to make tax reform comply with the Senate Byrd Rule that dictates no deficits outside a 10-year budget window. Some Americans no doubt would decide not to buy insurance if they aren’t hit with a tax, but that would be their choice. Republicans aren’t denying them anything. No other ObamaCare rule or mandate would be changed, and no benefit formula would be altered. Anyone who still wants an ObamaCare policy could still buy it.
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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.
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Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement in June about a discussion draft of health reform legislation that was then before the Senate, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. He praised its life protections: “The Bishops value language in the legislation recognizing that abortion is not health care by attempting to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion or plans that cover it. While questions remain about the provisions and whether they will remain in the final bill, if retained and effective this would correct a flaw in the Affordable Care Act by fully applying the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections. Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill.”
The leadership in the Senate, the House, and the White House know that any future health reform legislation must contain these strong life protections.
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