House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said he won't be adding the repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate to a tax reform bill expected to be rolled out Wednesday.
“What I don’t want to do is to add things that could again kill tax reform like healthcare died over there,” said Brady, R-Texas, said Tuesday in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt. Brady was talking about the failure of the healthcare bill to pass in the Senate in July when lawmakers were considering a "skinny repeal" bill for Obamacare that included repeal of the individual mandate.
Polling shows the individual mandate is one of the most unpopular versions of Obamacare, as it obligates people purchase health insurance or pay a fine. Proponents of the mandate say it helps bring healthier people into the Obamacare exchanges, but opponents argue it has been ineffective at doing so, and point to losses from insurers and lower-than-expected enrollment by healthier customers. A Congressional Budget Office report estimated that 16 million fewer people would have health insurance if the individual mandate were repealed.
The renewed push to repeal the mandate comes from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who told reporters Monday that he would like to see it included in the tax package Republicans are releasing Wednesday, and that other GOP senators support the idea. Cotton floated proposing it as an amendment if it is not included in the final text of the bill.
Brady said he supported repealing the individual mandate but that he didn't see how Republicans in the Senate would get the votes they need to pass it. Republicans need 50 votes in the Senate and have a 52-seat majority. In July, all Democrats and three GOP senators – Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona – voted against "skinny repeal."
Brady said he would support adding the individual mandate repeal in the final version of the bill if it were to pass in the Senate and then head to conference.