Senate Republicans are trying to gut Obamacare again, this time as a backdoor way to boost support for their tax bill.
A repeal of the “individual mandate,” which requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, is tucked into the all-important Republican tax reform bill that’s working its way through Congress, senators announced Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re optimistic that inserting the individual-mandate repeal would be helpful,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters.
Scrapping the mandate would save the federal government more than $300 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, largely because it would leave 13 million people uninsured. When fewer people have health insurance, the federal government pays less to subsidize healthcare.
And President Donald Trump has been vocal in calling for Republican legislators to repeal the individual mandate.
Still, it’s a risky move for Republicans. Their failure to pass healthcare reform showed that there’s disagreement on how, and whether, Obamacare should be repealed and replaced.
But Republicans were generally receptive to the new tax-bill item rolled out Tuesday. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who cast the deciding vote against the Republican healthcare overhaul in September, supports it, according to CNN. It’s still unclear, however, where the other two Republicans who opposed healthcare reform, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, stand.
The pressure’s on for the GOP to pass a tax bill, as the party in power hasn’t had a single major legislative win since Trump took office.