Key Republican says ObamaCare mandate repeal under consideration in tax bill

Key Republican says ObamaCare mandate repeal under consideration in tax bill
© Greg Nash

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyHouse passes tariff-relief bill GOP may increase IRS’s budget Overnight Finance: Congress barrels toward another shutdown crisis | Canada worries Trump will withdraw from NAFTA | Blue-state Republicans push tax law changes | Chamber CEO calls out Bannon, Warren MORE (R-Texas) said Friday that lawmakers are considering repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of their tax-reform bill given President Trump’s repeated demands to do so.

Brady said Trump has told him twice by phone and once in person that he wants the mandate repealed in the tax bill. Trump has also publicly called for the idea. 

Earlier in the week, Brady rejected the idea, saying it could jeopardize the tax bill.

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On Friday, he said he’s worried the provision could not get through the Senate and would reopen the contentious health-care debate. 

“There are pros and cons to this,” Brady said at an event Friday hosted by Politico. “Importing health care into a tax reform debate has consequences.”

“No decisions have been made; we’re listening to members and certainly the president as well,” Brady said.  

Still, he noted that the idea is under consideration. He said lawmakers have asked the Congressional Budget Office for an updated analysis with the mandate’s repeal included. 

Trump told lawmakers at a meeting Thursday at the White House that he wants the mandate repealed.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is also pushing for the idea and has been in touch with Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ DHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising MORE (R-Ark.), who is leading the charge in the Senate. 

Meadows said Friday the provision could also be added later on, in the Senate. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKoch groups: Don't renew expired tax breaks in government funding bill Hatch tweets link to 'invisible' glasses after getting spotted removing pair that wasn't there DHS giving ‘active defense’ cyber tools to private sector, secretary says MORE (R-Utah) has not ruled the idea out, but he has said that he wants to keep the health-care measure separate from tax reform. 

The Congressional Budget Office has found that repealing the mandate would save $416 billion over 10 years, because fewer insured people would mean the government would pay out less in subsidies. That could help provide needed offsets for tax cuts.  

But the flip side is that the CBO finds 15 million more people would be uninsured and premiums would rise 20 percent. The move could destabilize the health insurance market by removing an incentive for healthy people to enroll.