WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., would support repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate as part of Senate’s tax overhaul plan.
Senate Republicans are standing by the move, which would eliminate the provision that requires people to have health insurance coverage meeting specific standards with the risk of a penalty if insurance is not purchased.
According to Capito spokesperson Ashley Berrang, the junior senator “welcomes the change” because of the effects of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, including rising premiums.
“Repealing the individual mandate simply means that the federal government will not penalize hard-working West Virginians, especially those making less than $50,000 annually, who either cannot afford to purchase an Obamacare plan or decide not to do so,” she said.
According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, if the individual mandate were to be repealed, the federal budget deficit would decrease by $338 billion dollars between 2018 and 2027. The number of people insured would decrease by 13 million in the same period, and average premiums in the nongroup market would increase by 10 percent on average a year.
The Joint Committee on Taxation said the Senate plan would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.
President Donald Trump tweeted Monday his support of repealing the individual mandate, as well as lowering the top individual tax rate to 35 percent.
Senate Republicans revealed its original version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Nov. 9, which includes seven tax brackets with high-income individuals paying a 38.5 percent tax rate. The corporate tax rate would decrease to 20 percent, though the change would not go into effect until 2019. The Senate plan would also eliminate state and local tax deductions.
The individual tax changes would end after 2025 in the latest version, which would help assure the bill is not affected by the Byrd Rule, which would mean 60 senators would have to vote in favor of the bill if it increases the federal deficit beyond a 10-year period.
Capito said last week the Senate proposal was a forward step in passing tax overhaul legislation, adding Democrats needed to help change the law.
“The train is leaving the station. It’s time to get on board,” she said.
A representative for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., did not return a request for comment. Manchin introduced legislation in November 2013 to repeal the individual mandate, but told reporters last week he will not support a tax plan that serves the wealthiest Americans over middle-class taxpayers.
A group of health insurers and medical associations sent a letter Tuesday to congressional leaders saying the move would further destabilize the individual and small group insurance markets, especially if an alternative was not put forward in its place.
“There will be serious consequences if Congress simply repeals the mandate while leaving the insurance reforms in place,” the letter said. “Millions more will be uninsured or face higher premiums, challenging their ability to access the care they need.”
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on its tax proposal Thursday. A vote on the Senate plan is expected after Thanksgiving.