Mitch McConnell: We're Killing the Obamacare Tax

Lester Mason
November 16, 2017

The group, including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, America's Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association, warned the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate that there would be "serious consequences" if Congress simply repeals the mandate while leaving Obamacare's other regulations in place. So what does it mean, really, to lose the mandate? It's a fine or a tax for not being insured. And the Congressional Budget Office estimates that if that happens, the Treasury would save about $380 billion over 10 years. The party has long opposed the individual mandate in "Obamacare", and by scrapping the policy, Republicans will have an additional $338 billion over the next decade to pay for more tax breaks.

INSKEEP: OK. So it would damage Obamacare further. A committee that Murkowski chairs on Wednesday passed a bill to open ANWR to drilling, which is now expected to be attached to the tax legislation.

Portman said while he supports getting rid of the mandate, he also wants to move forward with the Alexander-Murray bill - a bipartisan plan to stabilize Obamacare Insurance markets.

So how did axing the individual mandate even make it into the GOP tax plan?

"They're slapping it on to the tax bill hoping that they can rush it through and no one will notice before we can get the word out that 13 million people will lose their health care", he said.

"We were never told health care was going to be part of it and this just flew in in the last 20 minutes out of nowhere", said Sen. In opposing health care proposals when they came up, a handful of Republican Senators objected to the impact they would have had on health care costs. When writing the law, Democrats were well aware of the fact that the mandate wasn't popular, but health care policymaking is about making hard choices, and this provision was necessary to make the other provisions work. This is a way that Republicans can go back to their base and back to their donors and say, we actually did something.

After an entire year of failed attempts at repealing Obamacare, Senate Republicans are now using the proposed tax plan to put all of their eggs into one basket, but will it work?

The stakes are high - Republicans are desperate for a big legislative win ahead of midterm elections - but in mixing health care and tax reform, two hot-button campaign promises, the Senate is taking a bit of a risk. "You're making a person pay a tax when they're not making a choice that you want them to make". This has become an nearly existential bill for them. That's why it's barreling along so fast. They have to be able to go home to voters and say, we can govern.

INSKEEP: And to their donors as well.

House leaders said they were meeting to decide whether to also add the individual mandate repeal to their bill, which could be up for a vote as soon as Thursday.

INSKEEP: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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