Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is pushing to keep alive the idea of including a repeal of the Affordable Care Act individual mandate in the tax overhaul plan, even as House Republicans struggle with how to address an issue that threatens to complicate the tax debate.
At a news conference Tuesday, Cruz said it’s vital to use the tax legislation to end the mandate that all Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty. If nothing else, he said, doing so will in effect be a tax cut for the 6.5 million Americans who now pay a penalty because they don’t have health insurance coverage.
“I think it’s critical to make this end,” he said of the mandate.
(Related: Cruz Pitches GOP Leaders to Allow Cheap Insurance in Health Bill)
House Speaker Paul Ryan told “ Fox News Sunday” that the GOP was considering adding the mandate’s repeal to the bill. Republicans have some incentive, because doing so is estimated to raise $416 billion over a decade, which could be used to offset tax-rate cuts. Repealing the mandate would result in increasing the number of people who are uninsured, thus cutting federal spending on subsidies for insurance coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Yet adding the matter into the tax debate could be combustible just a couple of months after a drive to replace the Affordable Care Act blew up in the Senate.