Health care is back under consideration in Congress, as the Senate Finance Committee adopted a tax reform bill that includes repeal of the individual mandate penalty, the tax people pay if they don't have health insurance.
The House also passed its version of the tax reform bill, but, unlike the Senate's version, it did not include the mandate repeal.
The Senate's inclusion of the mandate repeal not only keeps alive hopes of ACA opponents but also provides savings to fund tax cuts in the Senate bill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the mandate repeal would save $338 billion by 2027 and 13 million people would lose coverage, many opting out and therefore not using the subsidies to purchase coverage. Reports from independent groups question the assumption, but the CBO score is relied on by Congress. Part of the path forward for including the individual mandate in the tax bill would be the passage of the Alexander-Murray package of market stabilization measures, including funding for cost-sharing reductions and expanded use of 1332 waivers.
Next steps -- The Senate is expected to vote on its tax bill in the coming weeks. If it passes, differences with the House bill will need to be reconciled, either by a conference committee or an agreement by the House to pass the Senate bill.
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