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. 

{mosads}The lawmakers, led by Sen. John McCain (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 Johnson (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 Cotton (Ark.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.). 

Tags Jeff Flake John Barrasso John McCain Ron Johnson Tom Cotton
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