WASHINGTON – Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday that they would seek a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate through their tax bill, a major change of strategy as they try to accomplish two of their top domestic priorities in a single piece of legislation.

Repealing the mandate, which compels most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine, would free up more than $300 billion in government funding over the next decade that Republicans could use to finance their proposed tax cuts, but it would result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance, according to projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO has also projected that repealing the individual mandate would drive up insurance premiums for many Americans by roughly 10 percent.

The injection of health policy into the tax debate introduces a volatile variable into what was already a challenging political enterprise for Republicans. And it’s unclear whether it will help or hurt the bill’s chances.

By freeing up hundreds of billions of dollars, Senate leaders have more flexibility as they attempt to assuage the concerns of anxious members from across their caucus.

Senate GOP leadership has come under pressure to boost the tax plan’s benefits for the middle class as nonpartisan projections have shown that the wealthy and big corporations would benefit most. At the same time, leaders are struggling to ensure that the legislation does not add too much to the budget deficit in the long run, threatening the bill’s viability under the procedures they intend to use to pass it.

“We’re optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday after meeting with party members during a closed-door lunch.

Eliminating the individual mandate and having far fewer people signed up for insurance saves money because many of those people receive federal subsidies to buy coverage.

But the elimination would cause substantial political problems of its own.

The attack on former president Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement is likely to rule out the already slim possibility of support from Democrats, and the prospect of adding millions to the ranks of the uninsured could trouble moderate Republicans who voted down previous repeal efforts.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of the Republicans who opposed earlier attempts to roll back the health-care law, said Tuesday that including the repeal measure “complicates” the tax effort. But she suggested she might be able to support it if …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – News

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Senate GOP to add repeal of Obamacare insurance mandate into tax bill

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