Individual mandate repeal missing from early Senate tax bill, unlikely to be added to House bill

U.S. Capitol Building
The Senate's tax reform bill would not repeal the ACA's individual mandate, but the matter is still under discussion.

The Senate version of the GOP tax bill does not include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, and it's not looking likely to make it into the House version, either.

The Senate's version (PDF) was released on Thursday without any provision targeting the mandate, which imposes a tax penalty on those who fail to get insured. An amendment (PDF) to the House's version proposed by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, which the committee has approved, is also missing a repeal of the mandate.

Brady told Roll Call that such a provision is unlikely to be added into the bill before the House votes on it next week.

“We were within the budget number, and it’s extremely pro-growth,” he said of the amended version of the bill. “And so, I would expect this measure to go to the House floor.” 

President Donald Trump and some conservatives have been pushing GOP lawmakers to include a repeal of the mandate in their tax reform bill as a way to undo a key part of the ACA after failing to repeal larger swaths of the law.

RELATED: How the House tax bill could impact providers 

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans involved in initial briefings about that chamber's version of the tax reform bill said that though a repeal of the mandate is not in the initial draft, it is still under discussion, according to an article from The Hill. 

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz continued to push for the repeal on Thursday, but more moderate Republicans like Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski were hesitant, according to the article. 

"There's been a lot of discussion on that and we're looking at it very seriously," said North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, who supports a repeal of the mandate. 

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The much-maligned individual mandate is one of the central components in the ACA's insurance coverage expansions, and some experts have said that strong enforcement of the provision is key to strengthening the individual marketplaces. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected earlier this week that repealing the individual mandate through the House bill would increase the number of uninsured by 13 million and the federal deficit by $338 billion over the next 10 years. 

The CBO also estimates that repealing the mandate would increase premiums in the ACA's marketplaces by 10% each year in most years of the upcoming decade.