Trump suggests repealing ObamaCare mandate in tax bill

Trump suggests repealing ObamaCare mandate in tax bill
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President Trump on Wednesday suggested using the GOP tax bill to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

“Wouldn't it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts,” Trump tweeted. 

The idea is being pushed by Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Ark.) and also has the backing of House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

Meadows said Wednesday he supports repealing the mandate in tax reform and thinks "ultimately" it will be included because he is going to push for it. He said he has been talking to Cotton about it. 

A Cotton spokeswoman told The Hill that Cotton and Trump spoke by phone about the idea over the weekend and "the President indicated his strong support."

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchPhRMA CEO 'hopeful' Trump officials will back down on drug pricing move Live coverage: Trump AG pick grilled on Mueller probe at confirmation hearing Trump praises RNC chairwoman after she criticizes her uncle Mitt Romney MORE (R-Utah) this week said that he wouldn’t rule out including repeal of the mandate in the tax legislation.

But other top Republicans have rejected the idea, including House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyTexas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall Trump on declaring national emergency: 'Not going to do it so fast' Dems look to chip away at Trump tax reform law MORE (R-Texas), Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Trump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout  Texas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-S.D.). They fear adding the ObamaCare change would jeopardize tax reform.

“Look, I want to see that individual mandate repealed,” Brady said during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday. “I just haven’t seen, no one has seen, 50 votes in the Senate to do it.” 

Brady added that he would be open to adding a repeal of the mandate to the House bill if the Senate passed it first. 

Asked Wednesday about the president's tweet, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) threw cold water on the idea.

"I think tax reform is complicated enough without adding another layer of complexity," Cornyn told The Hill.

Thune, meanwhile, said mandate repeal is “not currently a part of our deliberations.”

But Thune added that some members have expressed interest in the idea and said he was "somewhat" interested in it because of the revenue implications.

Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Trump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout  Senators look for possible way to end shutdown MORE (R-S.D.) on Tuesday also dismissed adding a repeal of the mandate to tax reform.

“If there was a way to do it, I’d be open to it, but I’m not going to pitch it because I want to focus on taxes in the tax reduction plan,” Rounds told reporters.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing the mandate would save the government $416 billion over a decade.

The mandate requires people, with some exceptions, to pay a fine to the IRS if they do not have health insurance.

Experts have said repealing the mandate would result in massive premium spikes and a major increase in the number of uninsured people.

It could also send ObamaCare exchanges into a “death spiral” because it would discourage healthy younger individuals to sign up for insurance.

Asked about it on Wednesday after Trump's tweet, Hatch again did not rule out the move, but cautioned that he wants to keep health care separate from tax reform, a point echoed by GOP aides.
 
"I think we ought to do tax reform. If they want to do something on health care they can do that separate," Hatch said. It was not clear who "they" referred to.
 
"I'd have to really look at all sides of that. I've never been very excited about the individual mandate," Hatch said.

- This story was updated at 12:51 p.m.