Health groups urge Congress not to repeal ObamaCare mandate

Health groups urge Congress not to repeal ObamaCare mandate
© Greg Nash

A coalition of health-care groups is calling on House and Senate leaders not to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of the GOP tax-reform bill.

Hospitals, doctors and insurers urged Congress in a letter sent Tuesday to keep the individual mandate “unless and until Congress can enact a package of reforms to adequately assure a balanced risk pool and prevent extraordinary premium increases.”

The letter was sent by some of the top health groups in the country: America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and the Federation of American Hospitals.

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The groups argued that “repealing the individual mandate without a workable alternative will reduce enrollment, further destabilizing an already fragile individual and small group health insurance market on which more than 10 million Americans rely.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday afternoon that the Senate tax bill will include language to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneWeek ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content Overnight Tech: GOP senator presses Apple over phone slowdowns | YouTube cancels projects with Logan Paul after suicide video | CEOs push for DACA fix | Bill would punish credit agencies for breaches GOP senator presses Apple on phone slowdowns MORE (S.D.), the Senate's No. 3 Republican, told reporters there has been a whip count and he was confident Republicans could pass a tax bill that includes a measure to repeal the mandate.

Thune also said there was an agreement to pass a bipartisan market stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderWeek ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare Time to end fiscal year foolishness MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC director to miss fourth hearing because of potential ethics issues Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.) alongside the tax bill.

The goal would be to mitigate the negative impacts from repealing the ObamaCare requirement that everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty.

The Alexander-Murray legislation would fund two years of cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which the Trump administration stopped making last month. It would also broaden waivers to let states change certain ObamaCare requirements.

All of the groups that sent the letter Tuesday also endorsed the Alexander-Murray legislation. AHIP declined to comment if that legislation would satisfy the demands laid out in their letter.