With Congress seemingly on the brink of repealing the Affordable Care Act’s centerpiece requirement that most people get insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats are warning such a move would be disastrous, and Republicans are anticipating a sweeping symbolic victory.
Senate Republicans included a measure to repeal the mandate in their recently passed tax overhaul; the House didn’t, leaving GOP leaders to hammer out a final agreement for the compromise bill they hope to pass by year’s end. President Donald Trump on Friday night threw his weight behind the push to strike the mandate, promising a crowd in Pensacola, Fla., that it would soon be gone.
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Congressional repeal of Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate penalty is not tantamount to pressing the button on the doomsday machine.
Critics of the Senate tax bill say repeal of the mandate penalty to buy Obamacare coverage will result in a spike in premiums, an increase in the numbers of the uninsured, and a “collapse” of the health insurance markets. In other words, the individual mandate is the “glue” that holds Obamacare together.
The assumption: Millions of Americans will buy Obamacare coverage—regardless of whether they want it or like it—because the government forces them to do it, and penalizes them if they do not.
Do we have compelling evidence that this is, in fact, the case? No.
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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters Tuesday that he expects most House Republicans will support repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate in tax legislation, as GOP senators did.
“We’ll be asking our members where do they want us to be on that position. I suspect there will be strong support,” he said.
The House-passed tax bill did not include repeal of the individual mandate, while the Senate bill did. The two chambers now must reconcile their versions of tax-reform legislation in a bicameral conference.
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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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- 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.
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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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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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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