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 McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday afternoon that the Senate tax bill will include language to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE The real reason Scott Pruitt is gone: Putting a key voting bloc at risk 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 AlexanderSens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Top Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families 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.