Commentary

Senate Tax Bill Repeals Individual Mandate – But It’s Not Enough

By Twila Brase | December 4, 2017 | 3:20pm EST
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Screenshot)

The U.S. Senate passed an historic tax bill early Saturday morning and addressed the Affordable Care Act individual mandate.

We applaud the Senate for taking action to eliminate the Affordable Care Act penalty on people who cannot afford private insurance or do not want public coverage. That said, Americans need to understand three things:

 First, neither the individual mandate nor the penalty language is repealed in the Senate bill. They would remain in law. Second, the penalty on individuals is simply zeroed out, allowing another Congress to easily restore the penalty to the same level or even higher. Third, the Senate bill does not zero out the penalty until January 1, 2019.

Thus, if the bill becomes law, individuals will still be on the hook for the penalty for coverage decisions made in 2017 and 2018. Furthermore, mid-term elections could put this Congress’s elimination of the penalty at risk when a new Congress goes into session at the start of 2019.

Finally, it is insufficient to zero out the individual penalty. This one action will not restore health freedom. Even if the House agrees to zero out the penalty, most of the Affordable Care Act would remain in law, including the less well-known federal payment controls on the practice of medicine, and still needs to be repealed in its entirety.

Twila Brase is president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org), a Minnesota-based national organization dedicated to preserving patient-centered health care and protecting patient and privacy rights.

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