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  • Summaries of health policy coverage from major

Individual Mandate Repeal Included In Senate Tax Bill Despite Dire Warnings About Market Instability

Republicans muscled the largest tax overhaul in 30 years through the Senate early Saturday, taking a big step toward giving President Donald Trump his first major legislative triumph after months of false starts and frustration on other fronts. "Just what the country needs to get growing again," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview after a final burst of negotiation closed in on a nearly $1.5 trillion package that impacts the breadth of American society. (Fram, Gordon and Ohlemacher, 12/2)


The sweeping tax overhaul that passed the U.S. Senate on Saturday contains the Republicans' biggest blow yet to former President Barack Obama's healthcare law, repealing the requirement that all Americans obtain health insurance. The individual mandate is meant to ensure a viable health insurance market by forcing younger and healthier Americans to buy coverage to help offset the cost of sicker patients. It helps uphold the most popular provision of the law, which requires insurers charge sick and healthy people the same rates. Removing it while keeping the rest of Obama's Affordable Care Act intact is expected to cause insurance premiums to rise and lead to millions of people losing coverage, policy experts say. (Abutaleb, 12/2)


The Republican tax overhaul that squeaked through the Senate early Saturday morning would reach deep into the nation’s health-care system, with a clear dagger to a core aspect of the Affordable Care Act and broader ripple effects that could threaten other programs over time. The measure would abolish the government’s enforcement of the ACA requirement that most Americans carry insurance coverage. It would not end the individual mandate itself but would eliminate tax penalties for flouting that requirement. The result could cause an extra 13 million people to become uninsured and drive up insurance premiums in marketplaces created under the law, according to an estimate by Congress’s nonpartisan budget analysts. Yet downstream effects of the bill that have drawn less attention could potentially damage the health care and well-being of far more people. (Goldstein, 12/2)


The bill also eliminated the tax penalty on individuals who don’t have health insurance. Republicans say the “individual mandate” hurt low-income people and is a violation of personal rights. (Radelat, 12/2)


Congressional Republicans, buoyed by the Senate’s approval early Saturday of a landmark tax overhaul, expressed confidence that final legislation would be sent to President Trump by the end of this month. While the tax bills approved by the House and the Senate diverge in significant ways, the same forces that rocketed the measures to passage appear likely to bond Republicans in the two chambers as they work to hash out the differences. (Tankersley and Rappeport, 12/2)


For Mitch McConnell and fellow Senate Republicans, the push for a sweeping tax overhaul was never anything like the divisive internal party struggle that prevented repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “All of my members, from Collins to Cruz, were just more comfortable with this issue,” Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, said in an interview this weekend, referring to the centrist Susan Collins of Maine and the conservative Ted Cruz of Texas. “Everybody really wanted to get to yes. There was a widespread belief that this was just a good thing to do for the country and for us politically.” (Hulse, 12/3)


With the Senate bill passed Saturday and the House bill passed two weeks ago, congressional Republicans now will work quickly on a compromise measure to send to President Donald Trump by Christmas. A comparison of the Senate and House bills, each coming in at nearly $1.5 trillion. (12/3)


Republicans will try Monday to urgently reconcile the tax overhaul bills they passed in the House and Senate, entering a delicate period where they have to retain the support of their party’s conservative and moderate members. Party leaders insist that there are no showstopping differences between their two bills, each of which features a decrease in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Still, the bills feature differences worth hundreds of billions of dollars. (Werner, Paletta and DeBonis, 12/3)


The Senate bill also repeals ObamaCare’s individual mandate, while the House bill does not. If ObamaCare’s mandate is repealed, thousands of people are expected to drop their health insurance, raising the cost for those who decide to keep it. (Chamberlain, 12/2)


Having failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress is now working on a tax overhaul. But it turns out the tax bills in the House and Senate also aim to reshape health care. (12/1)


CQ: Health Lobby Frets Over Lack Of Insurance Mandate Alternative The health care industry is increasingly concerned that lawmakers could roll back a requirement that most Americans have health insurance coverage without putting a replacement policy in place. Senate Republicans could vote to repeal the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance or pay a fine under the 2010 health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) as part of a sweeping tax bill (S 1) as soon as this week. Unlike the health care bills considered by Congress earlier this year, Republicans have not put forward an alternative policy that would incentivize people to buy health insurance coverage. (McIntire, 12/1)


Politico Pro: POLITICO-Harvard Poll: Democrats And Republicans Still Fixated On Health Care With taxes and spending, debt and defense piled up on Congress’ extremely full plate this month, a new poll by POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that Americans remain sharply focused on health care — but Republicans and Democrats aren’t looking at the same things. (Kenen, 12/4)


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