Health groups urge Congress not to repeal ObamaCare mandate

Health groups urge Congress not to repeal ObamaCare mandate
© Greg Nash

A coalition of health-care groups is calling on House and Senate leaders not to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of the GOP tax-reform bill.

Hospitals, doctors and insurers urged Congress in a letter sent Tuesday to keep the individual mandate “unless and until Congress can enact a package of reforms to adequately assure a balanced risk pool and prevent extraordinary premium increases.”

The letter was sent by some of the top health groups in the country: America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and the Federation of American Hospitals.

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The groups argued that “repealing the individual mandate without a workable alternative will reduce enrollment, further destabilizing an already fragile individual and small group health insurance market on which more than 10 million Americans rely.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDoug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week GOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday afternoon that the Senate tax bill will include language to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGoogle says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data Fight looms over national privacy law Want to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches MORE (S.D.), the Senate's No. 3 Republican, told reporters there has been a whip count and he was confident Republicans could pass a tax bill that includes a measure to repeal the mandate.

Thune also said there was an agreement to pass a bipartisan market stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Overnight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Trump health official defends funding shifts to pay for detained migrant children MORE (D-Wash.) alongside the tax bill.

The goal would be to mitigate the negative impacts from repealing the ObamaCare requirement that everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty.

The Alexander-Murray legislation would fund two years of cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which the Trump administration stopped making last month. It would also broaden waivers to let states change certain ObamaCare requirements.

All of the groups that sent the letter Tuesday also endorsed the Alexander-Murray legislation. AHIP declined to comment if that legislation would satisfy the demands laid out in their letter.