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 McCainBiden's debate performance renews questions of health At debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Meghan McCain swipes at Sanders: 'Don't you dare lecture Biden about cancer' 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 JohnsonDemocratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks 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 CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonMeadows, Cotton introduce bill to prevent district judges from blocking federal policy changes GOP senator defends Trump idea to buy Greenland GOP senator says he suggested Greenland purchase to Trump, met with Danish ambassador MORE (Ark.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (Ariz.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoHouse votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge Lobbying World Meet the Democratic senator trying to negotiate gun control with Trump MORE (Wyo.).