Congressional Republicans Consider Repealing Individual Mandate, CBO Releases Analysis

As part of ongoing discussions and debate around tax reform measures, Congressional Republicans are considering repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance coverage mandate. Such a move would likely provide offsets for additional tax cuts that have recently been proposed by Republicans, though reports have revealed several Republicans are concerned about the chances of a provision to end the individual mandate passing in either the House or the Senate.

Recently released House and Senate tax reform proposals do not currently include language to repeal the individual mandate; however, negotiations continue among House and Senate Republicans about the potential inclusion of repeal language.

Amid the continued debate around the ACA being included in tax reforms, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis of the impact of ending the individual insurance coverage mandate. The CBO estimates repealing the mandate would:

  • Reduce federal budget deficits by $338 billion over the next decade;
  • Increase the number of people without health insurance by 13 million; and
  • Increase average non-group health insurance premiums by 10 percent.

The CBO’s report updates a previous analysis conducted in December 2016 by incorporating revised projections of health insurance enrollment, insurance premiums, and other factors. It is important to note that the analysis does not reflect specific legislative language, tax reform-related or otherwise.

Conflicting messages around the repeal of the individual mandate suggest there may not be enough support to include a repeal of the ACA mandate in pending tax reform measures. President Trump last week pressured Congress to include the repeal in the tax reform plan, but House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-Texas) indicated he is not inclined to add health-related provisions to the tax bill.

As such, it remains unclear how Congress will handle remaining legislative priorities, including tax reforms and health insurance reforms, with time dwindling in this year’s legislative calendar.