Top GOP tax writer leaves the door open to repealing a key part of Obamacare in the tax bill

  • Rep. Kevin Brady said Friday that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate could still be added to the new GOP tax bill.
  • Repealing the mandate would save the federal government billions over the next 10 years, because far fewer people would have health insurance.
  • Brady did not fully commit, because such a provision could run into trouble in the Senate.

A key part of the Affordable Care Act could still be on the chopping block as part of the GOP tax plan, a top Republican said Friday.

While speaking at a Politico event, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady — the author of the GOP tax bill — said that he is still considering including the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in the final tax bill.

“No decisions have been made,” Brady said. “We’re listening to members and certainly the president as well.”

President Donald Trump tweeted that the bill should include an individual mandate repeal on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the legislation’s release.

By repealing the ACA’s mandate, which compels Americans to buy insurance or face a tax penalty from the IRS, the federal government would save $US416 billion over the next 10 years, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The cost of that increase revenue, however, would be approximately 15 million more people uninsured over the next 10 years compared to the current baseline. Without the individual mandate, some healthy people would choose to go without insurance, causing insurers to raise prices. That could lead to more people leaving the Obamacare exchanges, leading to insurers dropping out of the exchanges or raising prices, and so on. This is what health policy experts call a “death spiral.”

A repeal of the mandate would also mean the federal government would not need to pay financial assistance for many people on the exchanges to help cover their premiums, saving money in tax outlays.

While the option was not in the draft of the tax bill released Thursday, Brady suggested it could be added in later revisions. Brady did express some reservations, however, given that the Senate could not agree on a repeal of Obamacare over the summer.

“There are pros and cons to this, importing healthcare into a tax reform debate has consequences especially when the Senate has failed to do anything on healthcare,” Brady said.

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