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Key chairman open to delaying repeal of ObamaCare mandate

Key chairman open to delaying repeal of ObamaCare mandate
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday said he is open to delaying the repeal of ObamaCare's individual mandate for having insurance.

Hatch told reporters he "wouldn't mind" postponing repeal until after 2020, or even indefinitely.

"I don't mind the individual mandate being expanded," Hatch told reporters Wednesday. "But it all comes down to budgetary concerns and how it's going to be written."

The individual mandate — a financial penalty on people who don't buy health insurance — is one of the most unpopular parts of ObamaCare. The House-passed American Health Care Act would repeal the mandate, effective immediately. 

Other senators also said they are open to delaying repeal of the mandate.  

"I think it's going to go away, but we're talking about a transition" to a new system, Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA GOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller MORE (R-N.D.) said. "My sense is yes it will go away, but we're still figuring out how you make the transition." 

Senators are still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office's cost and coverage estimates of the House legislation, which are expected next week. Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-S.D.) said the score of the House bill "will help a lot" as the Senate drafts its own version of the legislation, especially with regards to tax credits for buying insurance.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE (R-Tenn.) said the Senate Budget Committee will begin writing the chamber's version "soon."