It’s hard to believe that Republicans in the Senate could make their tax “reform” giveaway to their billionaire corporate overlords any worse, but it looks like they’ve figured out a way to do it.
Having failed time and again to repeal Obamacare, Senate Republicans are now looking to undermine the key element that allows the healthcare system to function effectively by including the elimination of the individual mandate as part of their billionaire tax cut plan.
The individual mandate requires every American to buy some form of health insurance and is a crucial piece of Obamacare, which, like all health insurance, relies on the participation of young, healthy individuals to balance the costs of providing care to the older and more medically needy portion of the populace.
Repealing it means that premiums will rise for everyone who stays in the plans as people who don’t face immediate health crises decide that they’d rather take a risk to save money and remain uninsured. It also will raise overall medical costs because uninsured people wind up using emergency rooms without insurance and, when they can’t afford to pay the massive bills that result, doctors and hospitals raise their rates to cover their losses.
Including the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill serves two purposes for the Republicans. Besides chipping away at their despised Obamacare, it frees up more than $300 billion over a decade, helping the Senate tax bill to stay within the limits of the rules that require that any tax plan that can be passed with a simple majority of the Senate can only increase federal budget deficits by no more than $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.
“I’m pleased the Senate Finance Committee has accepted my proposal to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate in the tax legislation,” said Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). “Repealing the mandate pays for more tax cuts for working families and protects them from being fined by the I.R.S. for not being able to afford insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place.”
For the Republicans, including a repeal of the mandate in the tax bill kills two birds with one stone. The question remains how many other people will it kill if their elimination of the mandate causes Obamacare to collapse.