GOP senators seek to repeal ObamaCare's insurance mandate

GOP senators seek to repeal ObamaCare's insurance mandate
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Legislation introduced by two GOP senators would exempt certain people from ObamaCare’s requirement that everyone must purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonBipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate Overnight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war Hillicon Valley: DOJ appeals AT&T-Time Warner ruling | FBI agent testifies in heated hearing | Uproar after FCC changes rules on consumer complaints | Broadcom makes bid for another US company | Facebook under fire over conspiracy sites MORE (R-Ark.) called the law’s individual mandate “cruel” and said they want to exempt working class Americans from the requirement.

The legislation would exempt anyone who earns less than the national median household income; lives in a state where the average premium increased by more than 10 percent year over year; or anyone who lives in a county with only one insurer.

“Nearly 80 percent of the Americans who paid the individual-mandate penalty in 2016 earned less than $50,000,” Toomey and Cotton said in a statement.

They noted the mandate “failed to drive enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges … despite the fact that the Obama administration doubled its advertising budget and fined nearly 6.7 million Americans for being unable to afford insurance.”

Insurance premiums in the individual market have been increasing in recent years, but plans have said the increases were stabilizing as they corrected pricing that was previously too low.

Insurers have said the steep hikes that many people will experience for 2018 are primarily due to the uncertainty around the future of the law and actions taken by the Trump administration.

President Trump and Republicans have pushed the argument that the law is in a downward spiral, but critics say their actions are undermining the law, putting the health care of millions at risk.

The Trump administration has cut off funding for cost-sharing reduction subsidies and has also slashed the money spent on outreach ahead of the next open enrollment period, which starts Nov. 1.

The legislation from Toomey and Cotton represents the latest legislative effort to repeal small parts of Obama’s health law after Congress failed to repeal and replace the law in its entirety.

The full repeal effort only would have needed 51 votes to pass the Senate.

Any further bills will need 60 to pass. With Republicans holding a 52-48 majority, the Toomey-Cotton effort is not likely to move far.