Week ahead: GOP poised to repeal ObamaCare mandate

Week ahead: GOP poised to repeal ObamaCare mandate
© Camille Fine

The Republican tax bill appears headed for passage in the coming week, which also brings a blow to ObamaCare.

The tax bill would repeal ObamaCare's individual mandate, a major accomplishment for Republicans in chipping away at the health-care law.

Health care groups warn that the move would destabilize markets and cause premiums to rise. Republicans say the repeal of the mandate is lifting a costly penalty for people who choose not to buy coverage.

The deadline for funding the government is also looming, with questions still hanging over the fate of a range of health-care measures that could be attached to a government funding bill.

Most prominently, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMaine House speaker announces challenge to Collins Senate seat GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (R-Maine) is still pressing for passage of two bills aimed at stabilizing the ObamaCare marketplace and helping to make up for repeal of the mandate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility California governor predicts 'xenophobic' GOP will likely be third party in 15 years This week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request MORE (R-Ky.) promised her he would support passage of those bills before the end of the year.

Collins is hoping they will be attached to the government funding bill to provide a vehicle for them to get through Congress.

But there are still major questions about whether House Republicans will go along.

Conservatives are opposed to the bill's funding for key ObamaCare payments to insurers, known as cost-sharing reductions, saying it is simply spending money to prop up the health-care law.

A showdown could be brewing between the House and Senate on the issue.

Meanwhile, states are getting even closer to running out of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Both parties say they want to provide funding, but they have been fighting over ways to pay for it.

CHIP funding could be attached to the spending bill next week, but it is also possible the issue would have to wait until the January funding bill, which would further frustrate advocates.

Industry groups are also pressing to delay a range of ObamaCare taxes before the end of the year, such as those on health insurance and on medical devices. Those moves might have to wait until January as well, though.


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