GOP senators unveil bill loosening ObamaCare individual mandate

GOP senators unveil bill loosening ObamaCare individual mandate
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A group of Republican senators on Wednesday introduced a bill to exempt people from ObamaCare’s individual mandate if they live in a county with one or no options for coverage. 

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The lawmakers, led by Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain Senate outlook slides for GOP Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden Democrats lead in three battleground Senate races: poll MORE (R-Ariz.), argue that it is wrong for people to face ObamaCare’s financial penalty for lacking insurance if there is only one insurer offering coverage in their area, or none at all. 

McCain is facing a reelection race this year and has put a focus on criticizing ObamaCare in his campaign. Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley won't attend GOP convention amid coronavirus uptick Trump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Congress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help MORE (R-Wis.), who is facing an even tighter race this year, is a cosponsor of the bill. 

“This legislation would ensure that Arizonans are not forced to pay a penalty due to the failure of a healthcare system that was fatally flawed from conception,” McCain said in a statement. 

Arizona is at the forefront of the issue because Pinal County in the state is currently slated to have no insurers offering ObamaCare coverage at all next year, which would be the first time that situation has happened. 

The shrinking number of options on the ObamaCare marketplaces has been an area of rising prominence given the high-profile exits by some major insurers for 2017. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 31 percent of counties will have just one ObamaCare insurer in 2017, up from 7 percent this year. 

These counties are concentrated in rural areas, and the analysis estimates that 62 percent of enrollees will still have the choice of three or more insurers, though that is down from 85 percent this year. 

“Under Obamacare, Wisconsinites can be penalized for not buying a company’s product, even when there is only one company selling it,” Johnson said in a statement. “This legislation would help ensure that Wisconsin families won't have to pay a penalty to help cover the cost of Obamacare’s failed promise of consumer choice.”

The other Republicans sponsoring the bill are Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: DOD reportedly eyeing Confederate flag ban | House military spending bill blocks wall funding Spending bill would block funding for nuclear testing GOP senator calls reporting on Russia bounties 'absolutely inaccurate' after White House briefing MORE (Ark.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (Ariz.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump nominates controversial, longtime acting head of BLM as director | Ernst sinks vote on Trump EPA nominee | Massive dust storm from Africa hits Texas, Louisiana Ernst sinks vote on Trump EPA nominee Cruz urges Trump to support Israeli annexation MORE (Wyo.).