Patient groups urge Senate to reject ObamaCare mandate repeal

Patient groups urge Senate to reject ObamaCare mandate repeal
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A coalition of 19 patient groups warned Republican senators on Tuesday against repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of tax reform.

The coalition's letter, signed by groups including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association, warns of “coverage losses and higher premiums” from repealing the mandate.

The Senate Republican tax-reform bill, which is slated for a vote this week, repeals ObamaCare’s requirement to have health insurance or else pay a fine. Experts warn that would leave only sicker people enrolled, increasing premiums and potentially destabilizing markets.

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If the requirement is repealed, the groups warn, “Many individuals with serious health care needs, including patients with chronic or major health conditions, who by definition, have a pre-existing condition, may not be able to afford coverage.”

“We urge you to reject this provision as the tax bill moves to the Senate floor this week,” the groups write.

The letter points to a Congressional Budget Office analysis finding that 13 million more people would be uninsured and premiums would rise 10 percent without the mandate.

Republicans argue lifting the penalty for lacking insurance is a form of tax relief because about 80 percent of people paying the fine make less than $50,000 a year.