Hatch doesn't rule out ObamaCare mandate repeal in tax reform

Hatch doesn't rule out ObamaCare mandate repeal in tax reform
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah) is not ruling out a push by Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Grassley offers DACA fix tied to tough enforcement measures Five things senators should ask Tom Cotton if he’s nominated to lead the CIA MORE (R-Ark.) to repeal ObamaCare's individual mandate in tax-reform legislation. 

Asked if he is open to repealing the mandate as part of a tax-reform bill, Hatch said Monday: "Sure, I didn't think it should be there to begin with.”

That Hatch is not ruling out the move at this point, though, does not mean it will happen.

GOP aides cautioned that repealing the mandate in the legislation is unlikely to happen. 

Some Republicans worry adding ObamaCare measures to tax reform would jeopardize the package. 

And Hatch sounded a note of caution, adding, "But the Dems aren't going to be for that, so it's going to be very difficult to get rid of it."

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Hatch said that he had not yet spoken to Cotton about the idea, but "I will."

Cotton on Sunday wrote on Twitter that he wanted to repeal the mandate, which requires people to have health insurance or pay a fine, as part of a tax reform bill. 

He pointed to a Congressional Budget Office finding that repeal of the mandate would save around $300 billion over 10 years, which Cotton argued could help pay for tax cuts. 

The CBO finds that because fewer people would have insurance with no mandate, the government would pay out less in ObamaCare subsidies, thereby saving money.

The flip side is that the CBO finds 15 million fewer people would have insurance without the mandate, and that premiums would rise around 20 percent. 

This post was updated at 7:08 p.m.