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'Disgusting': Senate Republicans' Tax Plan Will Scrap Obamacare Mandate

"The GOP tax bill is now straight-up 'take away your healthcare to pay for tax cuts for corporations,'" says MoveOn.org's Ben Wikler

healthcare protest

Supporters of a single-payer national healthcare system demonstrated in Baltimore, Maryland in February of 2017. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

In congressional Republicans' latest move to strip healthcare from millions of Americans, several news outlets reported on Tuesday that party leaders in the Senate are adding a provision to their tax bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) individual mandate, which requires all citizens to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty fee.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that repealing the mandate would, over the next decade, cause 13 million people to lose their coverage, but also reduce federal deficits by more than $300 billion. That reduction is key to the Republicans' tax bill, which cannot add more than $1.5 trillion to federal deficits. 

As Chad Bolt, Indivisible's policy manager, explained in a series of tweets, Senate Republicans are motivated to repeal the mandate not only to fulfill their campaign pledges—and repeated demands from Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)—but also to free up that $300 billion to more quickly give corporations larger tax breaks.

Ben Wikler, MoveOn.org's Washington director, also highlighted the link between the tax cuts and the individual mandate, and called the proposal "disgusting."

Wikler broke down how the proposal would likely roll out and impact the national healthcare system.

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The addition to the Senate Republican tax plan alarmed Democratic lawmakers, healthcare advocates, and others.

Shortly after news broke about the update to the Senate bill, a collective of major industry groups representing insurers, hospitals, and doctors released a letter (pdf) to congressional leaders of both parties, urging them to maintain the individual mandate, and warning of the "serious consequences if Congress simply repeals the mandate"—most notably, that millions of Americans "will be uninsured or face higher premiums, challenging their ability to access the care they need."

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