Earlier this year the Republican-controlled Senate was responsible for killing off a full repeal-and-replacement of Obamacare, leading many to question whether the GOP was capable of leading and keeping key campaign promises.
Now, however, Republican senators appear set to at least eliminate the very unpopular individual mandate, which forces all Americans to buy a product — health insurance — for the first time in U.S. history.
As reported by CNBC:
The proposed Republican tax reform bill will include repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring most Americans to have some form of health insurance or pay a tax penalty, GOP leaders said Tuesday.
The decision means that Republicans, yet again in 2017, will attempt to gut a key element of the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re optimistic that inserting individual mandate repeal would be helpful,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on Tuesday afternoon after a lunch meeting with the Republican conference.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., added, “I’m pleased the Senate Finance Committee has accepted my proposal to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate in the tax legislation.”
“Repealing the mandate pays for more tax cuts for working families and protects them from being fined by the IRS for not being able to afford insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place,” Cotton continued. “I urge the House to include the mandate repeal in their tax legislation.”
Other Republican leaders were also optimistic and said that getting rid of the onerous mandate, which many believe has led to sharp increases in health premiums, would be a huge money-saver for tens of millions of Americans at the lower end of the income spectrum.
“We’re going to repeal the tax on poor Americans,” said Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, adding that most Americans who pay a penalty for not having health insurance — which is also a component of Obamacare — are lower income earners.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told The Washington Post that there were 50 Republicans in the chamber willing to support getting rid of the mandate. That’s enough for passage given that Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of repeal.
The deal to get rid of the individual mandate didn’t come completely free to taxpayers, however. Thune said there was an agreement to pass another measure known as Alexander-Murray, “which would restore key federal subsidy reimbursements to Obamacare insurers cut off last month by President Donald J. Trump, CNBC reported.
Naturally, Democrats were dismissive and critical of the effort — not just because they gave us Obamacare in the first place without a single Republican vote, but because as the real party of big government, they see nothing wrong with imposing as many government-mandated costs on the American people as possible. (Related: Obamacare exchanges hit with over 50 percent fail rate; feds claim the worse the glitches, the bigger the success!)
What’s more, Democrats are far less willing to support a little concept we like to call “health freedom” — in this case, the freedom for individuals themselves to decide whether or not they want to spend their money on health insurance, and in what amount.
“They’re cutting taxes on the wealthy and taking health care from millions and raising premiums on millions of others all to reduce taxes on the rich,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, in sounding like a broken record.
In fact, the plan would save Americans vast sums of money rather than force them to spend vast sums of money on outsized health insurance they neither want nor can use, thanks to the onerous regulatory regime contained in their Affordable Care Act.
Since Obamacare became the law of the land, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed, along with out-of-pocket deductibles and other expenses — two things that Obama and Democrats promised their law wouldn’t do.
We’ve tried it the Democrats’ way, and it has been a dismal failure. Now it time to try some health freedom for a change and let individuals — and the insurance marketplace — decide on the quality of plans, pricing and other provisions of health coverage.
Read more of J.D. Heyes’ work at The National Sentinel.