House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans are discussing whether their tax plan should include a repeal of the Obama health law’s requirement that people have insurance coverage or face a penalty, a step pushed by President Donald Trump but seen by some GOP lawmakers as possibly imperiling a much-needed legislative victory.
It would be another shot at further undermining the Affordable Care Act after repeated failures by the GOP-led Congress to repeal and replace the law, as Trump has demanded and Republicans promised would happen after President Barack Obama left office and Republicans ran Washington.
The House Ways and Means Committee was set to begin work on the tax rewrite Monday, with the goal of full House consideration next week. The committee chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, has said including a repeal of the health law’s individual mandate would be politically risky, given that the Senate has failed to pass health legislation in Trump’s first year.
Ryan, R-Wis., told ”Fox News Sunday” that ”a lot of members are suggesting” that the House include the repeal, though he did not weigh in personally on how to deal with the coverage mandate.
Equally as evasive was the second-ranking House GOP leader: ”Well, I know people are talking about it,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on CBS”’ Face the Nation.” He added: ”Look, my focus is on tax. As the individual mandate goes, I would not be opposed to that. But I want to see this bill go forward.”
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing the individual mandate would save $416 billion over a decade. The mandate provides a powerful incentive for people to get coverage before health problems arise. But the money represents a tempting revenue source for GOP tax-writers whose tax plan would add an estimated $1.5 trillion over 10 years to the national debt.
Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told ABC’s ”This Week” that revenue counted through the repeal could in turn be used to soften the blow from the expiration of various tax credits and elimination of the deduction for state income and sales taxes.
”We’re advocating on behalf of that,” said Meadows, R-N.C.