The U.S. House passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill last Thursday while the U.S. Senate continued work on its own tax cut proposal. The largest difference between the two bills (at least form a healthcare point of view) is that the Senate indicated it would include a provision to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate – that is, the requirement that individuals purchase insurance or face tax penalties. The mandate is considered a central pillar of the ACA. The House bill that passed without any Democratic votes does not contain any such ACA-hobbling provision.
The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Academy of Family Physicians, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and Federation of American Hospitals all signed a letter to Congressional leadership last Tuesday decrying efforts to scuttle the individual mandate.
They wrote, “Under current law, the individual mandate is one of the primary incentives for individuals to enroll in coverage. Eliminating the individual mandate by itself likely will result in a significant increase in premiums, which would in turn substantially increase the number of uninsured Americans.”