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Senate plans to end 'Obamacare' mandate in revised tax proposal

Senate plans to end 'Obamacare' mandate in revised tax proposal

President Trump has urged action
Senate plans to end 'Obamacare' mandate in revised tax proposal
Sen. Orrin Hatch delivers remarks during the Senate Finance Committee's markup of the tax bill Nov. 13.
Photographer: Tom Brenner/ The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans have decided to include the repeal of the health care law’s requirement that most people have health insurance in a sprawling overhaul of the tax code, merging the fight over health care with the high-stakes effort to cut taxes.

Repealing the individual mandate, as President Donald Trump had urged, would help Republicans with the difficult math problem they face in refining their tax plan. But it also risks reigniting the contentious debate over health care that Republicans found themselves mired in for much of the year.

“I’m pleased the Senate Finance Committee has accepted my proposal to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate in the tax legislation,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who had pushed for the mandate to be eliminated as part of the tax bill. “Repealing the mandate pays for more tax cuts for working families and protects them from being fined by the IRS for not being able to afford insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place.”

In order to be protected from a Democratic filibuster, the tax bill can add no more than $1.5 trillion to federal budget deficits over a decade, and it cannot add to the deficit after a decade. Eliminating the mandate would free up more than $300 billion over a decade that could go toward tax cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Because getting rid of the mandate would lead to a decline in the number of people with health coverage, the government would spend less money on subsidized health plans.

In a Twitter post Monday, Trump urged lawmakers to end the individual mandate:

Several conservative senators have also called for its repeal as part of the tax overhaul, including Cotton and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Paul said Tuesday that he would seek to amend the Senate plan to repeal the mandate and “provide bigger tax cuts for middle-income taxpayers.”

“The mandate repeal is a promise we all made, and we should keep,” Paul said.

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