Repeal of ObamaCare mandate has a home in Senate tax bill

Friday, November 17, 2017
Chris Woodward (

healthcare costsSenators want a repeal of ObamaCare's individual mandate included in their tax bill, but some observers argue it won't solve the problems with premiums.

The individual mandate is the federal government's requirement for virtually everyone living legally in the United States to have health insurance. The Republican-led Senate has yet to come together on a "repeal and replace" bill involving the Affordable Care Act – so Senate Republicans plan to get a repeal of the individual mandate in their tax reform bill (related article).

"The individual mandate is bad policy, and it should be repealed – but all of ObamaCare should be repealed," says Drew White of Texas Public Policy Foundation. "One of the problems you see with ... partial repeal or piecemeal efforts is that if you try to repeal one component without getting rid of some of the others – or all of the others, in this instance – you could essentially, actually, make policy worse and have worse outcomes."

White explains that if the Senate tax bill repeals the individual mandate but leaves in place the federal insurance regulations, people will see an increase in their premiums.


"Yes, you won't be forced to buy insurance on the exchanges if you're in the individual market, and that's a good thing from a constitutional perspective, [as] we believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional," he continues. "However, when you leave the insurance regulations in place, you're going to be left with a scenario of very costly exchanges – and that is going to be bad for consumers, [particularly those] who are already seeing a 30- and 40-percent jump in their premiums going into 2018. That's only going to double down on that."

So White believes that a repeal of the insurance regulations is what is needed. "And that can't really be done on a tax bill," he adds. "This is one of those things where we're not confident it's going to have the positive healthcare policy outcomes, even though the tax reform bill in totality is a pretty decent bill."

Adam Michel of The Heritage Foundation believes the Senate version is better than that passed by the House on Thursday.


"It provides more of a tax cut for individuals by actually lowering rates on more people, which is something the House doesn't do at the top end," he explains.

"The Senate bill also includes the repeal of the individual mandate, which provides some additional funding to lower taxes even more. [It] also has a simpler and more straightforward treatment of small businesses – and those are sort of the big, broad strokes of some of the reasons why the Senate bill is sort of improving on what we saw pass the House."


The House passed its version of tax reform by a vote of 227-205, and the GOP leadership was ecstatic, offering up something akin to victory speeches. Financial expert Dan Celia is urging caution.

"There is no victory here. Nobody has won anything yet," Celia said on his syndicated radio program. "We can be joyful that the House is getting something done before they leave for break and getting something very important to America done. We ought to be very glad about that – but listen: this is one little battle, [just] one little battle."

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