- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Congressional budget minders say repealing Obamacare’s “individual mandate” would save taxpayers more than $305 billion but increase the number of uninsured Americans by 14 million over the next decade.

The mandate requires people to obtain approved health insurance or pay a tax penalty, unless they qualify for a financial exemption or other carve-outs spelled out in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 and in regulations authored by the Obama administration.

Without the force of the mandate, millions more would go uninsured, resulting in 41 million uninsured overall by 2025, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

But that also would mean the government would spend about $100 billion less on subsidies for people who purchase private plans on Obamacare’s web-based exchanges, and about $200 billion less on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Programs over the 10-year budget window.

Meanwhile, scrapping the mandate’s tax penalties would reduce revenues by just under $6 billion over that period.

The tax the first year was $95 or 1 percent of income above the filing threshold for 2014. This year, the penalty will be $325 or 2 percent of income, and by 2016 it will be $695 or 2.5 percent of income.

The individual mandate was included in the health care law to make sure enough healthy Americans signed up, spreading out the costs for higher-risk customers.

A divided Supreme Court upheld the mandate in 2012 as an appropriate use of Congress’ taxing power.

But congressional Republicans are still intent on scrapping the health law, and may use a fast-track budget procedure known as “reconciliation” to take a swing at it, including the mandate.

Also this year, top Senate Republicans filed stand-alone legislation to repeal the mandate.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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